open thread – April 4, 2014

Olive in hutIt’s the Friday open thread!

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

{ 1,375 comments… read them below }

    1. justmary*

      Are you just starting to read the 1200+ comments in the open thread? How about scrolling from the bottom and maybe commenting on some of us later posters? Thanks!

  1. BB*

    How much total time do people spend on job applications (resume/cover letter)? I try not to spend any more than 20 mins on a cover letter but now I’m struggling with the length of time I spend editing my resume. I have a master resume that I cut and add from but it’s still feeling like it’s taking forever.

    1. esra*

      It depends on how much I want the role. For casual applications, 20-60 minutes, but I’ll spend an evening on one I really want.

      1. AmyNYC*

        I second this. When I was desperate to leave Old Job, I blocked off 2 hours and aimed to apply to 3 positions. But if I really liked a company, I might spend all 2 hours on one application.

        1. Chris*

          Depends on the job description and if the job requires a cover letter.

          For instance, if the company offers a Mech. Eng. 1 position, but has the requirements of “be a good team player,” or “be detail oriented,” then I spend maybe 10-15 minutes on it with a boilerplate Mech Eng. Resume (highlighting CAD and GD&T skills and experience with 3D printing), and even then most of those minutes would be filling out the online forms.

          However, if the Mech Eng. 1 position requires the applicant to “be proficient with Solidworks” or “have demonstrated experience with mechanical design work,” then I might alter my resume to show Solidworks experience and put down in my projects section a few things related to mechanical design (i.e. my solar panel rotator). As for the cover letter, I look into the company and see if they have any projects or designs that look fascinating, and then highlight why I like them or how I could help improve upon them in my cover letter as part of my role. This usually takes about 45 minutes at most (since the parts I don’t need to change are relatively boilerplate), then it might take 10-15 minutes filling out the online forms (assuming the website isn’t awful).

          tl;dr: assuming the website isn’t glitchy or convoluted:

          10-15 minutes for a simple app
          45-60 minutes for tailoring and cover letter writing

    2. Ash (the other one!)*

      It depends on the role and if its something I can just tweak an existing letter/resume or if its one (like the one I’m working on now) where I need to start from scratch. The former, 10-15 minutes; the latter an hour or two.

      1. Audiophile*

        Usually 10-15 minutes. I have a resume that I’ve tweaked and updated. I spend a little more time on the cover letter, because that was one I just recently crafted from scratch.
        If anything I need to remember to add the roles I apply for to my spreadsheet.

    3. Kelsey*

      I spent two hours on a cover letter and resume for a job I really wanted last night, but that also included getting a friend to read it over.

    4. Marie*

      One to two hours. I know a lot of people will gasp at this but… pretty much every job I apply for I have to redo my resume because I have varied background, and positions in my field generally want very specific things. That said I’m really selective about what I apply for to save the employer and myself the time.

      1. TheSnarkyB*

        Wow. I spend 1-2 hours on an application and I’m not even redoing my resume. I had no idea until I saw this thread that other people were so efficient about it, even when cover letters are involved. I just feel such crippling anxiety about putting those words on “paper”- whether it’s the introductory email, cover letter, or whatever. Yeah most of that time is spent just being anxious and sitting there freaking out…

        1. LPBB*

          I am so glad to hear someone else say that! I do the same thing and the more I want the job the longer it takes too.

        2. Marie*

          Thats just average for me. If it’s a job I really want it’s definitely longer than that – I get all that anxiety and I start wordsmithing like crazy.

    5. Laura*

      About the same as you – except I often get easily distracted by the internet (like right now!) so it ends up taking longer. I think editing your resume 20minutes is also good…do you edit your resume for every single job? Because I don’t edit my resume for every single job….I apply to lots of jobs that are very similar so I can use the same resume …but you shouldn’t have to edit thaaat much for every single application I don’t think.

    6. Riki*

      I only edit my resume when I’m updating and that can take a few days since I usually ask 2-3 friends for feedback. I’ll spend 10 minutes to 3 hours on a cover letter. Those 3 hours can be spread over a couple of days. If you want to write a GREAT!!1 cover letter, I think it’s helpful to write a draft, take a break and come back to it later. It depends on the job and/or what I think the hiring manager wants to read based upon what I know about the organization. Some companies care more about cover letter content than others.

      1. Ali*

        I think about 20 minutes sounds about right here too. I made a master resume about two months ago, and when I’m ready to apply for a job, I cut/paste/delete things as necessary and send the resume on its way. I struggle with cover letters sometimes, but other times, if a job I’m applying to is really similar to one I’ve already used one cover letter for, I’ll use the same materials.

    7. Ellie*

      I spend about two hours applying for each job… researching the job, writing a cover letter, etc. It’s very time consuming.

      1. Jubilance*

        Oh I mean it just feels like we’re having a vacation, since he won’t be in the office. We’ll all be here working, just in a lighter & stress-free environment.

        1. the gold digger*

          I know! I wasn’t very clear. I meant that I agree with you that it feels like a vacation just coming to a boss-free workplace so I would never have a real vacation at the same time!

          1. AdAgencyChick*

            Really? When my boss is out I just have more work to pick up while I cover for him!

            This makes me wonder how my own direct reports feel…

    1. Char*

      My ex-manager travel between two offices in two different cities, so she was usually in the office I was at two weeks in a month. I know how you feel. Although I still do the same thing, I just feel less stressful without another pair of eyes (imaginary) looking at me.

    2. Tasha*

      There’s an old Dilbert cartoon about that (isn’t there one about everything). Pointy hair boss says “I’m going to be out next week so I don’t want any of you to schedule time off,” and the thought balloon over Wally & Dilbert reads, “What a waste of good vacation time that would be.” I remember it so clearly because it SO applied to the boss I had circa 1989.

  2. We are Happy i nCrazy World*

    I work at a non-profit member association that has been losing members over the past years. We have not met our revenue numbers. Not hitting the surplus (ie, profit) numbers. The CEO of many years is retiring and they have hired a new CEO, a retired 3-star general.

    We are being asked (ordered) to participate in a welcome video for the new CEO that consists of people dancing and lip-synching to the song “Happy.”

    I don’t have a problem with the song, but I have to agree with a co-worker who said, “He would probably rather see a video of people working.”

    1. Sunflower*

      For the CEO? That’s bizarre. Maybe you could use the video as a marketing tool to get more members? But for the CEO ehhhhh yeah I dont know…

        1. Windchime*

          Horrible. I need a lot of alcohol before I’ll dance with friends in a bar; there is no way I’m doing it with co-workers, sober, for a camera. Nope.

    2. OriginalYup*

      If I were greeted thusly as the incoming CEO of an underperforming organization, I would have zero trouble figuring out where things have gone off the rails.

    3. Mike C.*

      Make sure the person who’s idea that was has their name prominently featured in the video.

      What a stupid idea, christ.

    4. Mimmy*

      Weirdest. Request. Ever.

      Seriously, unless there is something really positive about the job, I’d be looking elsewhere.

    5. A Jane*

      That reminds me of a non-profit I worked for years ago with a decreasing membership issue. Half the organization was trying to stay focused on their initiatives and the other half was focusing on fluff and keeping up appearances. Makes me upset while thinking about it.

    6. Lily in NYC*

      Talk about not “knowing the audience” – I can’t imagine a 3-star general would be all that interested in a stupid music video. I know I’m generalizing and I have zero experience working with military personnel, but in my imagination, a general who makes it to 3 stars would be a no-nonsense type of guy.

      1. Beti*

        Well, I _have_ been in the military and I can say rank does not equal intelligence. It can, in fact, sometimes be a reliable indicator of incompetence, i.e., promote them to the point where they can do the least harm). Still, I can’t believe the average officer, high ranking or not, wouldn’t be anything but embarrassed by being welcomed by what sounds like a Nickelodeon-level video. I hope the aspiring video director comes to his/her senses!

        1. TL*

          All the high-ranking officers I’ve known – mostly naval captains – are pretty no-nonsense.
          (And there’s generally a good reason they weren’t promoted to admiral, whether it’s health or personality, but not incompetence as far as I can tell, though I do agree that that trend does exist.)

          I can’t imagine the other military branches were so different.

  3. CrazyCatLady*

    How do I stop reading into EVERYTHING (tone of voice, email, comment, even compliments!) at work?

    1. ClaireS*

      I suspect the root problem is self-confidence. Can you work to identify the key areas where you don’t feel confident in your job? Then work to understanding where that incertainy comes from (past critique, imposter syndrome). I think you have to identify and treat the root cause here.

      Good luck.

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        I do have self-confidence problems in general, but nothing specific with my job. It may stem from the fact that the last place I worked was very toxic, but I think my self-confidence issues were what allowed me to stay there as long as I did.

        1. lachevious*

          Because you felt like you deserved no better? I’d love to hear advice on getting past that, as well.

          What has (sort of) helped me is talking to and reading about people that have been through rough times before, and how they deal. Trying to stop negative self-talk is a big part of what helps, but it is hard to get into the habit. I hope you find something that works for you!

          1. CrazyCatLady*

            Probably — I did the same thing with men for a long time, staying in toxic or abusive relationships because I felt I didn’t deserve better.

            It’s hard because you get in these situations that reinforce those beliefs, making them even harder to untangle. Thank you for your encouragement though!

            1. lachevious*

              I feel ya! Haha I don’t even bother bringing new people (especially men) into my life because I got tired of being the abuser/abusee.

              It’s rough – but remember that no one is perfect, and perfect anything (emotions, reactions, feelings) isn’t achieved by anyone ever.

              We all (for the most part) do the best we can every day with the experience and knowledge we have with us – and of course, all this advice is way easier said than done! Keep on keepin’ on!

    2. esra*

      At my last job, I was full into bitch-eating-crackers mode with my micromanaging boss. Everything he said irked me, his audible breathing irked me!

      For me, I had to actively try to stop reading into things and not get annoyed with him. I started really turning off work when I left, no checking email after leaving for the day etc, and found more things to do after hours. I started knitting and sewing more, seeing my friends more, basically making everything outside of work happier. It helped me create the distance I needed to stop getting so frustrated in the office.

      1. lachevious*

        “bitch-eating-crackers mode” oh man I love this! What a perfect way to sum up that feeling!

    3. Celeste*

      Are you generally a Highly Sensitive Person? There are some self-help books about that very issue. Mostly I think you just have to let people be who they are, and cut yourself a break because you are the way you are.

    4. amp2140*

      Think of all the times you’ve been misunderstood.

      I really try to give the benefit of doubt, and address when I’m confused with someone’s tone both in my personal and professional life. The number of times that pausing to understand and realizing I was totally wrong is astounding, and I would generally say I’m good at reading people. Take things in the context of the person. Is this someone who holds grudges and is passive aggressive with you and others, or is this a generally understanding person that might be having a bad day?

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        Ha, this is a good point. I always hope people don’t read into what I say too much so I should try to give others the same benefit of doubt.

        1. Mallory*

          God, I hope people don’t read too much into what I say, bc half the time I may just be glibly popping off in a jokey kind of way.

    5. Anon for this*

      I assume you mean reading as bad/negative/nasty/sarcastic?

      If that is the case, you are hearing someone else’s voice when you hear or read these things and you need to figure out who and why, and what you can do about it.

      For me, it was an abusive mother constantly saying, “WHO would EVER love YOU?!?!” that carried over into everything in my life. It took a lot of years and a lot of therapy to finally agree that I needed to forgive her and that forgiving doesn’t mean condoning her behavior. And then it wasn’t until after her death that the healing could start (you can’t heal an injury that is constantly re-occurring, that ‘s why it is so necessary to get away from your abuser.).

      It can and does get better if you work at it. Don’t give up!

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        Thank you! Yes, I read into it as negative – never positive! I wish :) I had verbally abusive family members and then partners and then jobs. It was what I was used to, so it’s what I started to accept. Now that I’m out of those situations, it’s hard to shake the feeling that genuinely nice people don’t mean anything when they’re short or don’t sound overly enthused or put “…” in an email. Thank you for the encouragement.

        1. Dan*

          Therapy. I’m not being flippant, I go. The right therapist can help you understand why you think the way you do about things and help you develop strategies to mitigate those feelings.

          We have such a bias in this country against seeking help for mental health issues, which is just stupid. We’d be much better off as a society if we were all encouraged to deal with all of the crap going on inside of our heads.

          I was/am going through a particularly difficult divorce. When I mentioned I was going to therapy, my old boss told me, “I can save you some money! You’re normal, I’ve known you for three years!” I told him, “No offense, but it’s worth $15/week to hear it from a professional.” (And yes, I actually did need to be told I was normal at that point in my life.)

          1. CrazyCatLady*

            I’m a huge proponent of therapy and have been in it most of my life, actually. The reason I haven’t gone back yet is high co-pays but I probably should go anyway.

            1. Lili*

              There have been (hard) times when talking to an older and wise friend helped me see things from a different perspective and change my perception of the situation.

      2. Lily in NYC*

        Oh my god, anon, I am so sorry you had a mom who would say something so cruel to you. I cannot imagine how badly that would have messed me up as a kid.

      3. Lili*

        Anon for this – I hug you tight. You deserve all the love life can give a human being.

    6. NEP*

      You might be surprised at the power of simply not breathing life into those thoughts. Thoughts need our investment and interest in order to ‘live’. Sometimes just the idea that we must fight them off gives them more power. They might continue to come up, but that doesn’t mean one has to purchase them. Know that you can get to a point where you’re not affected by this. Bon courage.

    7. Laura*

      I have the same problem. I think it’s partially lack of self confidence, partially because I over analyze everything (even things like movies, books and music). I think being more analytical than normal is just in my nature.

    8. Kit F.*

      I find it helpful to interpret things how I would want them to be interpreted if they were sent/written by me. How often are you intentionally dismissive, cruel, or sarcastic to people at work? Pretty much never, right? Assume everyone else is as nice as you.

      I also find it helpful to remember that most people are focused on how people see them, rather than on judging others. They’re probably busy over-interpreting your messages to them.

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        Oh thanks, this is actually really helpful. Even when I’m actually dismissive or sarcastic, it’s usually about me, not the other person.

    9. FD*

      One thing that helps a little for me, oddly, is to seek out bosses that are very blunt–almost to the point of being a bit harsh at times. It doesn’t completely cure the feeling, but it can help to be able to say to yourself, “Okay, if I wasn’t doing a good job, Bob would definitely tell me so. So I’m doing all right.”

      1. Rev*

        I’m a HUGE fan of professional therapy.
        I’m also a big fan of personal therapy. What do you say to yourself? I don’t mean the mumbling we do and then are embarrassed when we realize we’re actually audible to others. I’m talking about the deliberate things we can say to ourselves about ourselves.

        In the mirror.

        To that person. What do you see when you look at him/her? What do you say? Do you say anything, or do you find all the faults and hang your head in shame? If you do, guess what you’ve done? You’ve given Negativity a jump start on ruining your day.
        To Hell with that. I’m going to run into enough people who have a bolus dose of negative juice running through their veins without taking a shot of it myself.

        I’ve never met you, but I do know a couple of things about you. You’re intelligent, and you care about people.

        How do I know that, pray tell?
        You’re here, that’s how. Stupid, uncaring people don’t take the time to hang around here, trying to improve themselves and their lives.
        You’ve got to talk to the Man in the Mirror (MIM).
        Literally. In the morning, and before you go to be, and, if need be, during the day. (The need to urinate has more than a few useful functions; there’s usually a mirror in there. If not, talk to HR…) Tell him, among other things, that you were sent to Planet Earth for a purpose, a purpose that no one else can fulfill.
        Don’t mumble; say it out loud. It may seem silly @ first, but we have a tendency to believe what we hear repeatedly (advertisers spend billions on that fact), so tell yourself what you need to hear, and don’t wait for someone else to say it!

      2. Mallory*

        Wow. I think I just had an epiphany about why I love my blunt boss so much! I do tend to be insecure about what people are *really* thinking about me, and I feel really secure knowing that if he thought I effed up, he’d immediately say, “Well Mallory, that was really effed up.” And I’d explain why I thought I should do it, he’d say, “Hell no, do it this way next time”, and we’d move on.

    10. Hcat*

      It feels like you’re being judged at times, and no one likes to feel judged. Someone once said, what the other person thinks you is none of your business…or something like that. It’s so very true.

  4. Sunflower*

    Any consultants here? Or former consultants? I hear a lot of good and bad about the job but it seems interesting. I also have a hospitality business management degree with about 3 years of marketing/event planning experience so I’m not even sure how I’d break into it. Sidenote: I have no spouse/kids or anything really tying me down so traveling all the time is not an issue on that front. Any help would be appreciated!

    1. Consulting Consultant*

      What kind of consulting are you interested in? It’s a pretty broad area. Do you want to work for yourself or for a consultancy? Do you want to stay within the hospitality industry or a more general competency based field?

      Personally I’ve gone from a multinational management consulting firm, to industry, and back again multiple times. I’ve consulted on projects in many countries and it allowed me to see the world… but that was my priority at the time! And the same thing I wanted in my twenties didn’t really suit family life in my thirties. I’ve seen many people come into consulting “knowing” what the travel and work schedule was likely to be and then be so drained and shocked by the consistency and difficulty of living life on the road that they quit within months. I would really encourage you to understand the commitment that a given firm asks of you (and there are certainly even within firms there are groups that are relatively local and others that travel far and wide).

      1. Sunflower*

        TBH, this idea came from a college career counselor (let me add at one of the top ranked career centers in the country). Right before I graduated, I knew I didn’t want to take a typical hospitality path of being a hotel or restaurant manager and she suggested consulting. I travel in my current job so I started rethinking about this topic. I’d definitely want to work for a firm. Right now I’m in corporate event planning and I like working with numbers and logistics so consulting is just something I am keeping in the back of my head as I search for a new job

        1. Consulting Consultant*

          Well, there are certainly many opportunities in consulting and it was definitely something I enjoyed. I would echo Sarahnova’s comment below that you can meet some of the smartest (and strangest) people in consulting. Also, I agree that support can be hit or miss but most of the large consultancies have exceptional professional development opportunities and the experience with these firms is usually well regarded when/if you return to industry.
          The larger firms also have some advantages for people early in their career: if you feel you want to change the direction of your career you can; they can absorb more downtime so you don’t feel at risk of losing your job when there’s no immediate project to work on; usually plenty of room for advancement so good performers can get rewarded; lots of opportunities for travel with a generous expense account.
          The downside: Possibly lower pay for the first few years at least; excessive travel (one year I spent less than 30 nights in my own apartment); long hours and high stress at times, boring at other times (when everyone is a high achiever someone still needs to do the admin work); the aforementioned weird personalities.
          I think the thing that gets to most people in my experience is the travel and uncertainty. Family, friends, pets, diet, exercise routine… literally anything that requires a reliable schedule becomes difficult when you don’t where you’ll be or when you’ll get there. Certainly not impossible but it can be a big adjustment that many people (or their partners!) can’t handle.

          1. Stephanie*

            I think the thing that gets to most people in my experience is the travel and uncertainty. Family, friends, pets, diet, exercise routine… literally anything that requires a reliable schedule becomes difficult when you don’t where you’ll be or when you’ll get there.

            I remember talking to a college friend who works at Bain:

            Me: Wow, I’m really jealous that you get to go to Rio de Janiero for work. I’ve always wanted to visit Brazil.
            Friend: Actually, I’m jealous you can go to the gym regularly and have outside-of-work hobbies.

            1. College Career Counselor*

              Yep. The inside of an office in Brazil can be remarkably like the inside of an office anywhere. And if that’s all you see, it’s not that glamorous!

    2. Sarahnova*

      I’m not sure anyone can answer in much detail without answering more about what kind of consulting you see yourself doing. What makes you want to move into it at this stage?

      In broad terms, consultancy can mean more pay, but also frequently more work and it often comes with intense peaks. It also generally means having to think about sales and business development, which is uncomfortable for some people. Consultancies are often surprisingly badly managed internally – many consultants never learned much leadership skills, so the development and support you get can be poor. That said, consultants are often very smart and interesting coworkers.

    3. Lily in NYC*

      It’s such a broad field, but management consulting is very difficult to break into (at least at the firms that are well-known, like McKinsey, BCG, etc). One of my friends is a recruiter for one of the big firms and I thought this was very telling – they have a large number recruiters who recruit solely from the Ivy League. They only have ONE recruiter for non-Ivy schools and ONE for schools not on the East Coast. Many of the firms have extremely elitist hiring practices.
      Also, I have found that management consultants have a very specific personality type – intense, dedicated (there will be long hours and lots of travel) and not always all that fun to be around (of course there are exceptions). Our strategic planning group works ridiculous hours – they are here until 3 am at least once a week and usually have to work from home over weekends as well. And they compete with each other to be seen as the hardest worker.
      It’s also really easy to get fired if you don’t produce business or if your presentations aren’t stellar.

      1. Stephanie*

        The Big 3 Firms (McKinsey, Bain, BCG) all hired from my non-Ivy alma mater! But to be fair, ITA about the elitist hiring practices. If they recruited outside the Ivy League, it was at near-Ivies (like my alma mater) or Public Ivies (such as Michigan or UVA). And at my alma mater, they were pretty strict that you had to have at least a 3.5 GPA.

        1. Consulting Consultant*

          I agree that the three you mention are elite “strategy” consulting firms but they are actually quite small by headcount and therefore concentrate on what they view as the best of the best.

          I would suggest that there are larger “operational” consulting firms, where Sunflower’s experience and skill set might be better suited (e.g. Deloitte, IBM, Accenture)

          1. Stephanie*

            Very true. And the big “operational” ones might have a specific hospitality practice she could look into that don’t recruit solely from elite college hires.

            1. Consulting Consultant*

              They definitely have specific hospitality practices.

              It was actually one of the things that never ceased to amaze me: the breadth of industries and niches that these firms covered.

              I recall starting work at a big consultancy in London and during the usual orientation I introduced myself to the person sitting next to me who said he was a “vet”. I assumed he meant military given the huge defense projects the firm did but he corrected me… he was a veterinarian. Apparently his specialty was valuing exotic and expensive animals (race horses, prize bulls, other breeding animals etc.) for M&A and audits.

      2. Sunflower*

        These are all good points and echo most of my research. My childhood neighbor got a job out of college working for McKinsey and actually recently quit because she hated it- Her passion lies in green energy. When I asked her what she deadfaced said ‘Excel. I stare at Excel formulas all day’

      3. KM*

        +1 to all of this. Boyfriend is a management consultant at a large, well-known firm, recruited straight out of Michigan. He’s one of the exceptions (in that he’s pleasant to be around!), but he has many complaints about the culture. Most of his co-workers devote their lives to their jobs and can’t or won’t draw boundaries between work and personal life, and when they aren’t working there is a whole lot of drinking that goes on. There’s very little time for hobbies (or relationships for that matter… I’m lucky that he prioritizes skype dates), and if you don’t like to travel, at least two flights a week may make you miserable. That said, the pay is good and it can definitely provide challenging work and opportunities to travel to a lot of different places.

  5. Ash (the other one!)*

    Such cute pics!

    So my only update is that I got the rejection letter from the job talk I did poorly on last week, so back to square one.

    Here’s my question — have any of you had a spouse who is self-employed but could be making a lot more if s/he were working for a firm? I’m trying to convince my hubby to go back to working for someone else to ease pressure on me. I feel guilty doing so as he had a truly abusive boss which made him go out on his own, but he make significantly less than what he could, plus he has to pay for his own health insurance, etc. Any advice to try to push him?

    1. Jax*

      Married 10 years here…I’ve learned that “pushing” my husband into job searches is the best way to start fights and resentment.

      Having an open and honest conversation during a calm, happy night is your best bet. Something where you frame it as, “I’m miserable with all of this pressure to find a better paying job for us. Do you feel that way, too?” If you come at it as a partner looking for help rather than a partner demanding that he find a better job, you’ll have more success.

      But unless HE sees the need to earn more income and feels like he needs to find something better, all the pushing in the world isn’t going to get him there.

      1. KellyK*

        I think that’s excellent advice. I don’t think you should try to push your spouse into doing things your way, especially with something as major as a career.

        I would focus on the financial issues and how they affect you, like Colette says. There might be solutions that you could both be happy with.

      2. Bryan*

        I think that is a great approach. If your necessary household expenses are greater than your income right now or if you have been the shouldering a lot of the expenses since your husband became self-employed you could also express how that pressure is giving you a lot of stress.

      3. Annie O*

        “But unless HE sees the need to earn more income and feels like he needs to find something better, all the pushing in the world isn’t going to get him there.”

        The more I think about it, the more I realize that your comment nails the crux of the situation. You can’t force someone to do something, at least not without incurring some serious resentment.

    2. Colette*

      So do you want him to go back to working for someone else, or do you want less financial pressure? I think you’ll have a more constructive conversation if you focus on the financial pressure, because there are multiple solutions for that one (a second job, changing your financial commitments/goals, etc.), and because it’s something you can solve together, not something where you get what you want and he has to do something he doesn’t want to do.

    3. Annie O*

      I have no answers, just empathy. I have a similar issue with my spouse. He made a career change into an area that requires more hours but pays a lower salary and offers worse benefits – and he loves it. I want him to go back to his old line of work because it would be better for our family, but I also want him to be able to do what makes him happy. I, too, feel guilty at times. And I need to stop counting (who pays more of the bills, does more housework, spends more time with kids), because it only makes me resentful.

    4. Dan*

      One of the reasons my ex is my ex is because she thought thought she could run up the bills and it was my responsibility to pay them. Whether or not she had a job was irrelevant, and most of the time she never worked. Then she would look at me and say, “Can’t we move? It’s expensive to live here.” The thing is, I loved my job and she knew it.

      You’re better off framing this as a larger “goals” conversation and figuring out where your husbands thinks his role is, and if you don’t like the outcome, consider splitting up. For example, if he thinks a smaller house, a 40-hour work week, and being his own boss makes him happy, then so be it. Pushing him to do something that makes him unhappy, for your benefit, is NOT the way to go. Then again, if he has lavish expenses and isn’t carrying his own weight, that’s not the way to go either.

      If you two can’t work through this as a team, well that’s your answer.

      1. Jax*

        I think it’s hard–as a spouse–to watch your partner willingly give up a great paying job to chase a dream. Because at first you’re 100% supportive of that dream. But when it’s been a couple years and the $30,000 per year income isn’t creeping any closer to the $80,000 income he left, then it gets really frustrating.

        I friend of mine supported her husband as he left a tech company to start his own, and she frequently whined that they would have much more money if he would have stayed at his job. As soon as they announced their pregnancy, he announced that he went back to his old company. I had to smirk at that one, because I’m pretty sure that was an arm-twisting, guilt-ridden “YOU HAVE TO SUPPORT THE BABY!” fight.

        1. Grace*

          Perhaps there wasn’t a fight. Perhaps he just “manned up” as a lot of decent men do to take care of their families.

    5. Ash (the other one!)*

      Thanks all —

      I wouldn’t mind him working at home if it weren’t for the fact that after expenses, he makes MAYBE $10K a year (we just did taxes). He could make more working for starbucks and he is a professional, just received his senior certification, and could be making $150K a year. We are fine with me making around ~$90K but I’m realizing that I might have to take a salary cut to get a new job and its impossible on our living expenses (we’re in a really expensive area). If he can bring in more business, fine, but I’m just frustrated everything is on my shoulders.

      1. Marina*

        Totally agree how frustrating it is. Does he have a business plan? Was $10k his expected “pay” this year or is that much lower than he thought it’d be? When does he expect business will increase?

      2. Bryan*

        I don’t know how particularly to help you other than what I kind of replied to Jax but I will say you have my sympathy. We moved to an expense area for my new job and my SO (who is an academic) started by only looking at adjunct jobs. I told him I don’t make enough to support both of us and this doesn’t even include fun extras.

        1. Bryan*

          Also in the heat of the moment once I said, “Why don’t you work while I get to do something I enjoy.” Maybe not the best comment but it seemed to work.

            1. Bryan*

              While it was effective because there’s not really a good response, I would recommend not taking that route.

              1. Annie O*

                Gotcha. I’ve avoided it thus far and am trying to be supportive. I get frustrated though, and things like that comment go through my head.

      3. Student*

        I think you should take a more holistic look at your finances, perhaps with the help of a financial adviser.

        If you are feeling tight on ~$100k and worried about staying above water if you drop your income a bit (I’ll throw out ~$75k as a hypothetical), then the problem is your family’s entire financial arrangement, not one specific person’s income.

        To give you a little perspective, the average US family of four lives on about $50k a year, gross income. Yes, certain areas of the country are (much) more expensive than others, and that is a factor, but it is a factor that you need to learn to live within or find a way to live without.

        Come up with a budget. Get the essential costs listed, then the nice-to-haves, then the wish list. Make sure your budget is aligned with your family priorities, and start making some choices. Then monitor your actual spending and work hard to stay within that budget.

        This worked to motivate my husband to get a job. He cut his hours in half, and then left his job entirely for several months. I have a steady job with a decent income, so this didn’t bother me. We were doing fine on must-have costs, and then he came up with a wish list and asked if it fit into the budget for the year. We went through everything together, and it turned out that he could only have 1 to 2 of his 4 wish-list items for the year. So the next week he was out interviewing for jobs, and now we can afford all his wish-list.

        1. Ash (the other one!)*

          Yea, no, 90K in DC plus student loans and a mortgage plus prioritizing saving for retirement means we live paycheck to paycheck essentially. We don’t factor in what he makes AT ALL since its basically nothing and anything he does goes towards paying off debt he incurred before we were married. We don’t have luxuries, so don’t assume.

          1. Dan*

            I live in DC too, and am the same username who posted up thread. I was supporting my wife and I on $70k out here, and in the same boat as you with student loans and all of that.

            I’m at $90k now, with a GENEROUS 401k match from my employer, and life is so much better. Oh, my ex and I split up before I took my current job.

            I support myself just fine (and then some) and sleep so much better without having to worry about supporting a spouse who won’t take care of themselves.

            Oddly, I would have been happy enough if my spouse brought in $1k/mo, but apparently that was too much to ask. Student is right about the problem being my “family’s” entire financial arrangement, not just one person’s income. My ex didn’t want to pull her weight so we are no longer together. Problem solved. Ain’t my job to provide for her entire wish list, that’s for sure.

            1. Ash (the other one!)*

              Yea, I felt like I had a lot more disposable income when I was making 20K less, living in a 1 bedroom apartment, and supporting myself. Ah, what getting a spouse and a puppy does. We aren’t struggling on $90K but we would be if my income fell, which is why I’m so stressed out. I love my husband, we just got married, and I know he will try, but its truly hard. He doesn’t spend more than he needs to (not the type to go out and buy a new toy without discussing it with me; I’m the one to splurge on a new pair of shoes) but I wish he made even a little more AND had a steady income to provide the cushion we need.

              1. H. Vane*

                When my husband and I had just gotten married, he had never fully supported himself and didn’t know how to properly budget. It was rough. He went through a period where he didn’t have a job and had given up on looking for anything (we were going to be moving for school within a few months). I had to sit him down and tell him that it just wasn’t acceptable for me to be carrying the relationship financially and he needed to find something, or at least be actively searching (2008 – bad times).

                I am a strong proponent of clear, perhaps even harsh and blunt communication especially at the beginning of a relationship. It is so much harder to establish clear expectations and responsibilities if you’ve spent the first several years trying to avoid tough conversations about money, employment, sex, children, health, in-laws, or anything else. We have a happy and healthy relationship that I truely think is stronger than most that I’ve seen.

                This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have the conversation lovingly and tactfully, but sometimes people do need a metaphorical cup of cold water to the face.

        2. Annie O*

          I get your point, but I don’t think financial planning magically changes the fact that one person has chosen a path that puts the vast majority of earning responsibility on their spouse.

          1. Bryan*

            Is there something he enjoys that he will no longer be able to? Like does he enjoy watching sports on TV but with less money cable is a good thing to cut.

            1. Ash (the other one!)*

              Nope. We have cable because its the one thing I enjoy. He’s not a spender at all.

      4. Dan*

        I know what your shoes feel like, even down to the high COL living. Keep in mind that as your spouse, it’s also his role to support you as well.

        It’s hard to talk about numbers without sounding like a money grubbing you know what. But when your spouse doesn’t support you in your dreams and goals, and flips you the metaphorical bird when you try to talk about yours, well, a supportive spouse is something you don’t have. If he won’t increase his business or find a better job, I don’t blame you for walking if you go down that path.

        We all sign on “for better or for worse.” But when it comes to spouses who won’t pull their weight, that’s just a bunch of “feel good” BS that is designed to let someone take advantage of you.

        1. Grace*

          Please elaborate about what that means to you that a spouse “won’t pull their weight”. I know plenty of couples
          where one person doesn’t work a job, but takes care of the home front, children, etc. They live within a spending plan, etc. They each “pull their weight”, but perhaps not in the way that you’re used to thinking about it.
          Vows shouldn’t just be tossed out the window. Problems should be solved.

    6. Rev*

      Men have a tendency to define themselves by their jobs. When 2 men meet, immediately after the handshake, the first question most often asked is, “What do you do?” From that point on, how they will view each other will be filtered by that answer.

      From boyhood, we are scorekeepers. All of our games (football, baseball, etc., are score-oriented, and we don’t stop until there is a clear winner/loser.

      As adults, money is how we keep score, and it’s hard for us to stop when we don’t make as much as we’d like, because to do so is an indicator we have lost in the game of Career.

      Ever wonder why football games have cheerleaders? Men need the idea that there is someone who supports him in his efforts in the game of Career. A wife who doesn’t support her husband’s efforts is like a cheerleader booing the star quarterback.

      That’s why sex isn’t the leading cause of matrimonial discord, money is. When a man feels he isn’t winning the Career game, he will double his efforts towards something his wife feels is a losing proposition, because We Can’t Lose….

      1. Dan*

        Until you’ve lost it all, and it certainly happens that way.

        Problem is, marriage is a two-way street. No spouse has the right to demand (through words or actions) that the other spouse is there to support them unilaterally. You BOTH have to benefit.

      2. Rev*

        Did you feel like the QB whose WR keeps dropping the ball, even when it hits the numbers, then looks @ the QB with a “why didn’t you put it where I could catch it?” look?

        Question #2–during your courtship, weren’t there any signs that’s how she was gonna be? Not blaming you, I just find it interesting that the cute kitten would grow into the Cat That Won’t Use the Litterbox.

        As you can see, I’m addicted to Mixed Metaphors…

          1. Ruffingit*

            Yeah, sometimes there are some subtle signs of issues, but you have no idea that what looks like an ant hill is actually a 50-foot sink hole. Sometimes people are good at masking their true selves and/or they get worse as time goes on. In other words, they start out as that ant hill and then they become the sink hole and during that process you as the spouse are trying to hard to make things work, to be understanding, to do what you can…until you finally don’t give a damn anymore and the divorce is not sad, but rather a huge relief because you no longer have that albatross shitting down your neck.

            I’ve been there Dan, can you tell? ;)

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Instead of suggesting any solution- such as going back to work for an employer, I would try opening a general conversation.

      You can say that you are concerned that all the eggs are in one basket. If anything happens to your job you guys are going to really be in a bad spot.
      Ask him how long he thinks it will take for a better income stream. Ask if you can help in anyway (within reason- something that is actually doable for you).

      Tell him you are interested in building a five year plan. (Most people can do sprints- if you know there are incremental goals and the solution is on the horizon that is going to give you some relief. However, marathons are not realistic, people can not run at something full blast indefinitely.)

      In short what are his goals/dreams? What are yours? And how do you plan to get there as a team? What trade-offs are each of you willing to make?

      This next part works well when you have specifics that you are talking about:
      With my husband I framed it as “my piece of the pie”. “We are doing X so you can have your piece of the pie, I would like to have my piece of the pie, too. What can we do to make sure that I get Y?” My husband thought this was totally reasonable and really went to bat for me when my turn came up.

      If the only solution is for him to go back to working for an employer, really, he has to find that solution on his own or else he will just be really miserable and you won’t be doing so hot either. The best you can do is use questions to help steer his thinking. He may come up with stuff that you never even thought of – so this could actually work into a really good conversation.

  6. MandyBabs*

    Have to share something weird/ironic-

    I have been doing heavy duty job searching for a while, and landing tons of interviews, but no job (yet). In the meantime, I am responsible for hiring a position under me and have been reading incoming resumes and conducting interviews! It’s kind of nuts because I’m trying to be fair to candidates, yet am like “I know your pain friend!” But I have to say this site has taught me how to be a good interviewer – for both sides of the coin so to speak.

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      We’re hiring for a program assistant and I’ve had somewhat the opposite reaction. After being on this site for quite some time I am now so critical of cover letters and resumes that just don’t work or the people who call the office to ask about their application. I’ve become really cynical.

      1. MandyBabs*

        I hear that, but honestly by being tougher on resume/cover letter – and have perspective on what is good thanks to the site (again) – it makes the process on this side of the table easier. Though I did get a few pushy people calling in and it just made me go “Guess you’re a no” and write it down. If they want to dig themselves a grave, go for it.

        Additionally the position I’m filling for is more tech related so I’m understanding that writing quality may not be there. Hence phone interviews!

        Annnd seeing how many people really aren’t living up to their resume potential, makes me feel like a stronger candidate in my search. I guess at the end of the day I felt like a turn coat for working both sides. I just want to do right by the applicants that are trying.

    2. Laura*

      I bet since you know what it’s like, for everyone you choose to interview, you’ll get back to them either way! I think that’s the worst thing that far too many interviewers do, and I wonder if they just don’t know what it’s like

  7. AndersonDarling*

    Hooray! I get to post early in the thread!!

    I was wondering if anyone else works full time + a part time job. I have been for quite some time and I’m getting a bit tired of not being at home, but I LOVE both my jobs and the extra bit of income is nice.

    Has anyone else made the decision to cut a part time job? What was it that let you know it was time to stop? Was there a financial threshold? Time constraints?

    Happy Friday!

    1. Brett*

      I work two part-time jobs (startup company and adjunct instructor) in addition to my full-time job (local government).

      I’m ready to quit the instructor job. I like the work, but it is far too much of a time sink. I don’t need the money that badly, and I don’t get the same class from semester to semester so I keep having to do new preps.

      I have great bosses at the startup job and they really try to use my skills, so it is very satisfying. Also a decent chance that it would lead to a full time job that could double my current full time job. So, I stick with that one.

    2. LMW*

      I worked a part time job in addition to my full time job for five years, then quit the part time job when I started grad school. I worked some part time temp gigs in addition to my full-time job after I finished grad school. But then I got a new job that paid much, much better and now I just enjoy having free time! So, in one case a time constraint and another, I hit a financial level where I didn’t need it.

    3. B*

      I was in the exact same boat as you. For me letting go of the part time happened because of exhaustion. I felt it every night because I never let myself rest and could not actually have a life with friends due to always working. At that point I asked myself what kind of life was I living if I wasn’t actually living a life…just going from one to the other.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I did it all through 2011 (the part-time gig was a freelance content job). I hated it. Two jobs isn’t for me. In my case, it got cut when the website I wrote for revamped itself and stopped assigning work. They did offer me a curating position later, but it wasn’t enough money to make it worth the time.

    5. littlemoose*

      I worked at PT retail job for about 18 months while working my FT job. I kept doing it because I only worked 8-10 hours per week, had a very good schedule (no weekend nights, no Sundays), loved my coworkers, and got a great discount. It was very little extra money, and I think part of the reason I kept doing it was that I’d worked for this retailer for so long before that it was hard for me to walk away. I still miss it once in a while. I stopped doing it not exactly because I no longer needed the money (it wasn’t much per month anyway), but because working the retail job on Saturdays was keeping me from doing OT at my FT job, where I would make more in an hour than I did in my entire retail shift. And I did get tired of dealing with rude customers and not having as much free time – I was often behind on laundry and cleaning, and I lived alone without anyone to pick up the slack. So it was a combination of factors that led me to finally call it quits on my PT job. But I have no regrets about doing it, as most of the time I really did enjoy it.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        That’s where I’m really falling behind- house things. Laundry, cleaning… it stinks to work a lot of hours then come home to a messy house. It would be easier if the house was clean.

        I massage part time so my hours come and go. Right when I think I can’t take any more, I suddenly don’t have any bookings and I go a few weeks with one or two appointments. But then it will randomly pick up again and I’ll be working 10 hours in a week.

        It’s tough thinking about letting it go, but I know that I will need to at some point.

    6. Sam*

      I did both once due to financial reasons. I loved my part-time job more, but ultimately I got burned out and looked for a full-time job that I would love, and would allow me to focus on just that.

    7. Canadamber*

      How is it that you work a full-time job AND a part-time job? ;o 9-5 on weekdays and a few hours in the evenings or on weekends? :$

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I work two evenings a week and every other Saturday. But things may get so busy at my part time that I am going in on more evenings, every Saturday, and I have even been asked to come in on my lunch breaks (which I have occasionally done)!

      2. AmyNYC*

        This is why I left my PT job a few months after starting a FT one as well. It became really hard to fit in retail during the work week, and I eventually was only working once a weekend (at that point the PT job was really more about the employee discount rather than extra cash)

      3. ExceptionToTheRule*

        I work from 9am-130pm Monday through Thursday at my part-time job and 2:00pm – 11:0pm Monday through Thursday at my full-time job. Fridays I work 9:00am-5:30pm at the full-time job. I spend weekends freelancing. I’ve been working some version of that life for almost 20 years.

        Moral of the story: don’t go into local television. The pay sucks.

    8. Orange Panda*

      I used to work a full time job (family therapist) plus two part time jobs (suicide hotline supervisor & mortgage software support). I had to quit one (the mortgage one) of them just because I was literally working pretty much any time I wasn’t sleeping.

      Then they made some changes at the suicide hotline that I didn’t agree with, so I quit. It was a tough decision, but I thought about it often and I realized that it was making me more unhappy than happy.

      The extra money was sooooo nice, but ultimately I didn’t need it. I do miss being able to buy pretty much whatever I want, but it’s very nice to not have to worry about working after work.

  8. Camellia*

    We haven’t had a question with an “Ack! Don’t do that!” response in a while, have we? I miss them.

    1. BB*

      My friend is job searching and told me she isn’t applying to postings and is only using a recruiter because she doesn’t know what she wants to do. I’m still trying to nicely tell her to ‘Ack! Don’t do that’

  9. Kelsey*

    Does it look bad if you want to be writer but don’t have a blog? I would love to have one but there just isn’t anything I spend enough time on to dedicate a whole blog to it. I thought of doing the whole ‘working twenty-something lady in the city on a budget’ but is that overplayed?

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      What do you actually want to write about, professionally? Is there a specific topic area you can start a blog about — politics, current events, music?

      1. Kelsey*

        I’d like to write about women’s interests (eventually, I don’t know if I could start off there)

        1. Ash (the other one!)*

          Why not? There’s a lot of stuff going on right now in that arena, just write relevant things and promote yourself on Twitter etc. For instance, the Dear Harvard: You Win column that was published earlier this week is a current event you could easily write about.

        2. Char*

          I guess you just have to start writing and then promote it from there. I do think that the idea you mentioned is a little overused and commonplace… Hard to get into top of search on search engines too. Find something you like or just blog about your life (lifestyle blog)! :) of course, you could actually think who you want to target and then focus on topics that interest them.

    2. Candy Floss*

      Do you have other writing samples, professional ones? If you have strong writing samples, I don’t think you need a blog.

      1. Beth Anne*

        What you can do is have a website and post your writing samples on it. Like have different categories at the top of things you write about. So if you write a new article you can just add it.

        I have a blog and I think they are good but if you don’t have the time to update it at least 2-4 times a month it won’t look good career wise. I do think owning is a good idea for anyone (I should take my own advice)!

    3. CanadianWriter*

      I have a website that has a “news” tab but I don’t have enough to talk about to have a dedicated blog, either.

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      I think it depends on what kind of writer you want to be. Blogs are good for people who need to demonstrate their writing chops in order to get a job or freelance work. Hoping to be the next Great American Novelist? Not so much, I’d think.

    5. LMW*

      It really depends on the type of writer you want to be. It’s better to not have a blog if you don’t have the time or interest to make it something really great. Instead, perhaps consider a small website that shows off your work and occasionally writing an essay or something to add.
      Having hired writers for white papers, blogs, books and articles, I can tell you that there’s only one category out of those four where having a blog would be critical.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        You do need to post regularly if you’re going to have one. And your posts should pop up on Twitter, etc. Blogging in itself is a lot of work, even if you don’t have one with a following as huge as Alison’s.

        1. LMW*

          Exactly — I want to clarify – if you have a blog it needs regular updates (unless you are hyperbole and a half, in which case once a year is fine), but if you have a website and you’re just adding new static content, then occasional updates is fine. Plus, if you have a blog, there is a huge interactive component that’s expected. It’s a giant time suck.

    6. Carmen Sandiego*

      I’m a successful freelance writer and I do not have a blog. I’ve never had an editor ask about it. They all just want to see clips.

      1. Ali*

        I have a writing/editing background and can’t seem to maintain a blog if my life depended on it. Guess I’m just not motivated enough…which is my own fault. But I don’t think it’s essential. Blogging is so saturated these days that everyone and their mother can call themselves as a writer. I don’t think it helps you truly stand out.

    7. Lily in NYC*

      If you aren’t the type of person who is comfortable marketing yourself, then I wouldn’t think a blog is a good idea. I know I could never do it for that very reason. Writing is so tough these days – the competition is ridiculous and the pay is so much lower than it used to be. At this point it seems like self publishing on Amazon is the only way to make a small buck but I don’t get the sense you are looking to write novels. Or you could go the opposite route and get attention by writing about controversial topics like that obnoxious Tiger Mom from last year (she has a new book that is just as stupid- she is so obviously writing provocatively just to get attention).

      1. Ali*

        This! The one site I write for, for free no less, is really big on giving featured page placement to the people who “network” or “market themselves” on Twitter in addition to being the better/more senior writers. I’ve been there for two years, and even though I have talent, all I keep hearing is that I don’t tweet my stuff enough and that I need to market myself more. This isn’t really my personality, and as much as I think I want to learn, I don’t think I can even pretend to be a good self promoter.

        Or, maybe I’m just tired of writing for free. Who knows?

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I have one to maintain an online presence and write about writing (and funny stuff, when I think of it. Or funny writing stuff.). If (when!) I finally publish something, I’ll have at least the beginnings of a platform and a place to put news and updates.

        1. Rev*

          Question: what is your opinion on self-publishing? Took a quick look @ your site, good concept! I’m just more curious (read: “nosy”) than anything else; I write mostly to amuse myself, and to clear the cobwebs out of my mind. Too bad mental floss can’t be packaged/sold, I’d buy it by the case!

          1. Windchime*

            I’m not a writer and Elizabeth will surely know more about this than I do. But I have to say that one of my favorite authors is Hugh Howey (author of the “Wool”, “Shift” and “Dust” series). He is self-published and his books, at least the Kindle versions, are dirt-cheap on Amazon. He has apparently made quite a nice living for himself by going the self-publishing route. He’s got a blog, so maybe check that out?

            1. rev*

              Thank you. He’s a good example of what I’d like to be but have too many frickin’ irons in the fire to accomplish.

              My Uncle Alfred always says, If you’ve got too many irons in the fire, add some wood….

          2. Elizabeth West*

            Right now, I don’t want to go there. It’s still got a somewhat poor reputation because of all the dreck, and it’s too expensive in terms of both money and time for me to deal with at the moment. I’d like to make a valiant attempt at the traditional way first.

    8. Susan*

      You definitely don’t need a blog, but you do need to write if you plan to be a writer. In college, I wrote for the college newspaper and did some internships that provided more clips. I know some of my friends freelanced. If you don’t have clips, then you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

      I will say I know some people who had a blog and it really worked in their favor. I think this is true if you’re targeting a niche market (one friend wrote a cooking blog and got picked up by a national cooking mag and another about health and got picked up at a health magazine). But it doesn’t sound like you’re focusing on a niche. I just wrote about everything and anything for local publications and I didn’t have a blog and that worked out fine.

  10. OriginalYup*

    This is more of an out-loud thought than a question. I see a many posts/comments here about how school doesn’t prepare us fully for the working world. I mostly agree, it’s a tough transition. But I also think there were plenty of areas where school prepared me plenty for work, even if I didn’t realize it: deadlines, attendance, dress codes, dealing with authority, following arcane rules. Even just learning to sit still and pay attention in the classroom. In fact, college in particular taught me a couple things that prepared me *exactly* for 9-5 life:

    -Learning to deal with bureaucracy. The class I just completed, that you swore was foundational to my major, does not actually count towards my degree? The bursar’s office has again lost my scholarship check and then assessed me a fine for account delinquency? The registrar’s office inexplicably recorded my four Bs as three Ds and a C, and refuses to change them despite written affirmations from the professors? Yep, problem-solving and patience for the workplace, where you will often wonder how anything gets done ever.

    -Dealing with yet another group project in which two people are slackers, one is a no-show, and the remaining three are so neurotic that you can’t even get agreement on how often to meet. I swear this is a practicum for operating a business with these personality types. (Several of whom will be your superiors in the workplace version, fyi.)

    1. Celeste*

      I agree with your points. I think that most of those commenters are talking about some of the finer points of interpersonal skills, like character, etiquette, courtesy, respect, empathy, character, and so on. Kids no longer get handwriting or typing classes; they are just supposed to print block letters and type by hunt and peck like in texting. When I had handwriting and typing back in the primordial ooze, we had to practice writing all kinds of letters, using terms of respect, formats for different communications, and so on. It really helped you get the difference between formal and informal acts in society. So much is blurring now, and I think it feels like the schools should be able to intervene. I may be rambling now, but there are just some soft skills that the kids don’t seem to be getting. I see a few changes, but I agree there’s been a loss.

      1. CanadianWriter*

        Kids don’t get taught handwriting or typing anymore? How are they going to survive life? I feel so old.

        1. Kelly L.*

          I think at least some of this gets exaggerated in the media, as in one school will stop teaching cursive, or states will stop requiring it but maybe it’s still being taught anyway, and the media will wring their hands and it sounds more widespread than maybe it really is. And on the one hand, it would be sad for this style of writing to go by the wayside, other styles of writing have come and gone over the centuries too; I’m sure Elizabeth I would bemoan that nobody knows secretary hand anymore. ;)

          I’m pretty sure typing is still taught. In fact, when I googled it just now, people were grumbling that it’s replacing the cursive lessons.

          1. Kelly L.*

            That said, I think the business-letter stuff is pretty useful; I think it would be handy for high schools to have a class with business letters, resumes, etc. so that people could get that info even if they don’t grow up in a white-collar home or go to college.

            1. AB*

              We had to do business letters in elementary school (in the mid-90’s); it was part of typing/ computer class. We learned how to make powerpoint presentations, type business letters, use mail merge and create simple excel spreadsheets. By the time we hit 6th grade, the computer class was typing up a hefty chunk of the business letters for the school (it was a private school). The class was boring as all get-out, but I have been endlessly grateful for such an early indoctrination.

              1. Kelly L.*

                We had them in English, I think in freshman comp if memory serves. The letters, I mean. Not mail merge, I figured that out on the fly at my first office job.

              2. Collarbone High*

                We did this too, but … I’m old, so we learned WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3. I was a freaking GENIUS at Lotus back in the day. Damn you Bill Gates and your newfangled programs.

            2. Laura*

              There is a class like that required to graduate from highschool in Ontario, called Careers. At least, that’s what it’s supposed to be, it kind of depends on the teacher/school. That was the class where I learned how to write resumes and cover letters. Judging what I learned by reading this blog, what I learned in Careers actually wasn’t that bad.

              In university we had a class called “Transition to Work” which was also supposed to be like that, only it was stupid and more like “bad career centre” type advice

              1. Chinook*

                Yes, Alberta also has a class requiredd to graduate called Career andd Life Management (usually done in grade 11). It deals with real life stuff like budgets, mortgages, compromising in relationships (as in you are radnomly paired or not and given a random number of kids or not and then told to pick a job from the newspaper and create a budget, find a place to live, etc.). It is a class that the only way you fail is to not complete the work (as my brother found out). Some of the less academic math streams also cover filling out tax forms and compound interest.

              2. Lizzy Mac*

                I took Careers! I hated it. I was the first year of it and they threw any teacher they could at it. I had one of the phys ed teachers as my career teacher. We spent most of the class in computer labs taking “personality tests” off whatever free website he could find. We never covered resumes, interview skills or anything really related to working. Plus because its a half semester course with Civics, it actually pulled my overall grade down. It has been twelve years and I’m still bitter.

          2. Tinker*

            People get weird as all heck about the cursive thing, incidentally. It’s almost as bad as tattoos for bringing the cranks out of the woodwork. I think it might be because of the tone that the media coverage often takes — it points people in the direction of shock! outrage! decline of humanity!, which is not a great look for many people.

            1. Kelly L.*

              Yeah, it always brings to mind the “They don’t say the Pledge in school anymore!” memes that go around Facebook sometimes, and which are even less accurate than the cursive thing; it was one school, lol. I had one acquaintance post the Pledge thing to facebook and had about 10 parents on her friends list reply that yes, in fact, their kids were still saying the Pledge in school and the meme wasn’t accurate, but she kept digging in her heels and insisting they didn’t.

          3. Agile Phalanges*

            Our school district unfortunately doesn’t teach typing until high school. I tried to make my son (7th grade) take some online typing lessons over the summer this past summer because he insists on writing (and he has bad handwriting) his papers, which means each revision means writing the whole thing out AGAIN. It’s ridiculous.

            When he’s really on a time crunch, I transcribe his papers into Word for him (exactly as he writes them, and it’s really hard not to correct as I go along!) so he can just edit instead of wasting time re-writing. He still refuses to start off by typing.

            However, he just started a new term at school, and is taking Media Studies, which apparently includes at least some instruction in typing. I hope it sticks, and he starts typing his papers.

            But yeah, that was a really long-winded way of saying that no, not every school (district) teaches typing, even though you would think so in this day and age.

          4. Mallory*

            My kids report that in their computrr keuboarding classes, they learn first to type and then how to format letters in Word and how to compose business emails.

        2. Judy*

          My kids are getting taught handwriting – in fact that’s one pushback around here about Common Core, it doesn’t require handwriting.

          My fourth grader has to turn in a paper each week with all of his spelling words written 3x in cursive, and has at least 5 of the words on the list that must be written in cursive for the test. (Curse you br words, they’re hard to get right, his look like l with a weird 3 bump r.)

          The fourth grader is also taking keyboarding in school. When I went to school in the 80s, I took typing the last semester before college, because the college lane kids “didn’t need to know how to type”. The college lane kids were expected to pay a typist for their term papers. Only the business lane kids had typing on their suggested class list.

          1. Kelly L.*

            We had typing as an elective in the early 90s. It wasn’t even so much that they thought people would hire typists, it was more like “if you’re going to type for a living, you need to be fast; if you’re not, you can type slowly if you want, but it’s going to be annoying and take forever.” :D I passed the class and then promptly fell back into my hunt-and-pack habits. And am actually scary fast at it. ;) It’s more just “peck” than “hunt and peck.”

            1. Elizabeth West*

              My chat room improved my typing speed. It was around 20-25 wpm and shot up to around 55, 60 on a good day. It won’t go any higher because my hands cramp up.

              And all the jobs that made me take a typing test? Once I was actually working there, I barely had to do any typing at all!

              1. AB*

                There’s actually this weird French movie (that is also absolutely adorable) about a girl who is crazy fast at the hunt and peck method and so her employer decides to teach her the 10 finger approach and enter her into typing contests. It’s set in the 1950’s and is somewhat of a romantic comedy. It’s called Populaire.

              2. Kelly L.*

                I got stupid fast at typing while writing horrible, horrible fiction. I had to take a typing test for my current job, blew it out of the water, and while I do type here, no one really cares how fast.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  When writing fiction, fast typing is definitely a plus. At times when my brain is working faster than my hands, I would get so frustrated if I had to hunt and peck.

              3. Agile Phalanges*

                Your last paragraph is so frustrating, isn’t it? (And I type 90 wpm when I really get going.) But HR was just raving to me that someone did so great on their typing test, 75 wpm, isn’t that awesome, blah blah blah, and it turns out the position they’re applying for is accounting-related. The most typing they’ll do in one sitting is to send the occasional e-mail. I don’t know why they’re so excited about the candidate’s typing speed when they should care more about 10-key skills and attention to detail, the latter of which they probably didn’t even test for.

          2. College Career Counselor*

            One of the best thing I ever did was take typing in high school. (ancient IBM Selectric–I’m old!) That skill made a huge difference in being able to produce papers (I had no money to pay someone to type–AND I was not organized enough to get a draft far enough in advance anyway), even if I was using a manual typewriter and freaking WHITE-OUT. I got really fast with typing after the advent of email in my job.

        3. Laura*

          I don’t think the not getting typing thing is universal…my sister is currently learning to type properly, but it’s part of a larger business class, and she’s in 10th grade.

        4. GingerBird*

          For typing, it may not be taught formally as a class, but computers are so omnipresent for younger generations that its picked up naturally over time. As a “millenial” I almost failed the week long class on typing I was forced to take in middle school, but I can type a hell of a lot faster than my mother. QWERTY is pretty much second nature to me.

        5. Windchime*

          If my kids were taught cursive, it was very , very brief. Neither of them can do anything other than write their signature in cursive and they are both in their twenties. But they can both type like nobody’s business because they took “keyboarding” classes in school.

          I spent most of the third grade learning cursive. I can start out printing, but I always change to a mix of printing and cursive before too long.

      2. VintageLydia USA*

        Other people addressed the typing/handwriting thing, but the soft skills were often usually taught by parents (especially ones like empathy) or in entry level jobs (workplace etiquette, how formal and informal are actually applied.) I’m not really sure how schools should make up for it, if even they should. Workplace norms vary so much by industry and even office to office that its a bit ridiculous for new grads to just know this stuff. Not everyone can get internships and not every internship teaches office norms–or is even in an office to begin with.

        1. Kelly L.*

          And if the school taught outdated, bad information, it could be counterproductive. I’m all for them teaching the crunchier skills of how to format a resume or whatever, though.

      3. GCat5*

        My kids are in school now and get handwriting in 3rd grade and typing in grades 5-7. So they’re definitely still being taught.

    2. Marie*

      I would say how much your undergrad degree prepares you has a lot to do with the field you’re in, what kind of professors you have, and whether you’re getting theoretical or practical training.

      1. ClaireS*

        I agree; it depends on both what field your in and what school you go to. For instance, the OP talks about dress code, being on time, paying attention, etc. none of that was required at my university. You could show up late where pjs and you may get a dirty look or 2 but no one would scold you. There was also no rule you had to show up at all or even pay attention. But, I sort of question who’s responsibility it is to teach these things. I think if I went to a university that monitored this type of behaviour, I would be frustrated that I was being treated like a child when I felt like a (young) adult. Figuring out on your own that you should pay attention (as opposed to being scolded for not paying attention) was really valuable for me. Sometimes you need to make your own mistakes.

        Not to say of don’t agree with the idea that schools don’t prepare you for work in general though. But it is complex.

        1. Kelly L.*

          My school also had people running around in PJs and such, and yet at the same time I think pretty much everyone knew that you didn’t do that out in the work world. It was less “This is OK everywhere!” and more “I can’t do this in a few years so let me get it out of my system now.” So I agree with you and I also don’t think casualness in college necessarily equates to not knowing how to dress/act in the workplace. It’s a matter of knowing your setting.

        2. OriginalYup*

          To clarify, dress codes & attendance were primary & high school. The bureaucracy was mostly college.

        3. Tinker*

          Yeah, this is definitely a thing — one thing I notice, looking back, is that there seems to be this error of thinking that one can make a child into an adult by continuing to treat them like a child. That is to say, for instance, by continuing to lead them around and impose arbitrary restrictions on them for pedagogical purposes, outside of a process that they’ve chosen for themselves.

          From what I see, the result from this mode of thought might be a child who has developed certain skills or perhaps a child who is more prepared to perform certain virtues, but it does nothing (I’d say is probably actively counterproductive) as far as making the transition from someone who is not in charge of their life to someone who is.

          As a side note, something that has stood out in my experience is that when I was younger, I thought that I’d have to prove that I was “responsible” enough and then people would start treating me like an adult, and then I would be able to claim that status. That’s what I was told, more or less, growing up.

          It actually happened more or less backwards — the key bit was claiming that I was an adult and expecting people to treat me that way, then they did, and then I had actual responsibilities (including dealing with the fallout, if any, of my actions) with which I could be responsible.

          I think we almost seem to be going backwards a bit, culturally, in teaching people this — there seems to be more avenues for control now than what I recall as a kid, and from what I recall to what my dad told me about his childhood, and once humans have a power it is most difficult to get them not to use it.

  11. Kelsey*

    Do you have any career regrets? If there was anything in your career that, if given the chance, you could go back and change- would you?

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      Yes. I regret leaving my previous job for my current one. I should’ve known from the salary negotiations beforehand that this was going to be an awful environment. I left my last job (which I adored) because of an awful new boss who didn’t want me doing what I was doing anymore. I had just started talking to his boss about moving elsewhere when I got this job offer. The big kahuna even called me to tell me I would be missed if I left, but I felt so attacked by the new boss that I was just done. I wish I stuck it out and seen if I could transfer internally instead of moving to this even worse situation.

    2. Xay*

      I would have been more proactive about looking for fellowships and opportunities for young professionals early in my career. I’ve been able to work my way up, but there were a lot of opportunities that I just wasn’t aware of when I started.

      1. Sunflower*

        I’m interested in this- What kind of opportunities? And where would someone go to find them? I’m young and always looking for new things!

        1. Xay*

          I work in public health and there are various organizations that either offer fellowships or training opportunities for young professionals on various levels. There are more now than when I got into public health, but I wasn’t really aware of what was available then. I do some mentorship now for new college grads and I advise them to start by visiting websites for the national and local public health associations and schools.

          Now that my interest is in global health and I’ve discovered how hard it is to break in with exclusively domestic experience, I wish that I had known about some of the organizations that exist to give young professionals that experience early on.

      2. Lucy*

        OMG, me too. I’m really excited about the direction my career is taking now- but I see resumes of people in my field who had internships, writing project and other opportunities to really strengthen their careers over the years, and I get a little jealous. I feel like I wasted a lot of time when I was younger thinking jobs would just come to me.

    3. Audiophile*

      I think my one career regret, sort of, is turning down the job I was offered post graduation with a bank. It was PT, but they were offering benefits and it was a branch of the bank I use. I regretted it almost immediately, because I had very few interviews and no other offers, and didn’t wind up getting a job for another 3 months.

    4. anon in tejas*

      I wish that I would have realized that I am good at what I do and started gaining confidence earlier in my career. I wish that I would have been more aggressive in seeking out mentors while starting in my career. And I wish that I would have applied for this certification examination last year instead of this year.

    5. kas*

      Not really career-ish but it involved an internship. I turned down a position in an industry I really want to get into. It’s impossible to get an internship unless you’re a student and when hiring, they go through interns first. A relative knew I was looking for an internship so she reached out to a contact and got me one as a “surprise.” Because she went out of her way to do this and the person was willing to bring me in without even meeting me, I felt like I couldnt turn it down. It was a great experience but not what I wanted to do.

    6. ZoeUK*

      I loved doing my degree, but I had the opportunity to train as an accountant OR go to Uni and I chose Uni. If I’d chosen accountancy I’d be earning loads of cash now. Plus, guess what job is always suggested for me first in career tests? ACCOUNTANT!

      1. Josie*

        I’m curious about this – how does one usually train as an accountant in the UK? I’m just surprised at the dichotomy between going to university OR training as an accountant, since I’m used to accountancy being a field of study at university, and a fairly traditional one at that.

        Also, I hear you on accounting-regret. I didn’t do well in calculus in high school and saw that accounting programs all required a semester or two of it, so I gave up. I was so used to thinking of grades as being everything that I didn’t consider that I could have probably managed a C in those classes, and that once you have your degree, no one cares at all about your grades in first-year calculus.

        1. anonintheUK*

          To be a qualified accountant in the UK, you need to be a member of ICAEW, ICAS or ACCA.

          You can take a degree in accountancy, but then you need a year of practical experience to actually call yourself an accountant. Or you can not go to university ( or go to university and study something wildly different), and find an employer to fund you through work/study for the ACA exams.
          We are now getting quite a lot of school leavers coming in to train as accountants because university tuition fees have soared. They’re probably still cheapish by US standards, but they’ve gone up a lot.

          1. Josie*

            Thanks for the info! I have only vaguely looked into the requirements in Canada (they’ve changed recently and I wanted to let it all settle down before I consider whether I should go back and become an accountant) but I believe a degree is necessary, though not necessarily one in accounting though the number of courses you take seems to be nearly equivalent to a full degree.

            1. Onymouse*

              I’ve vaguely looked into it in Canada too, and a Bachelor’s (in anything) is definitely a requirement.
              If nothing else anonintheUK, it should help with international mobility.

    7. B*

      I wish after college I had the confidence and strength I do now. My career, that trajectory, and life would have been very different.

    8. Cajun2Core*

      I regret getting into a nitch market and thinking that I would not get laid-off. I was an expert on an H.P. proprietary operating system. Then H.P. stopped supporting their proprietary operating system. I thought, no problem, I have faith in the company. The company started switching directions and while I learned a little bit of HP-UX, I did not learn as much as I should have. I also never really took time to learn Windows Server and any other Operating system. The we had a *big* boom. The company doubled in size, however, the new guys all knew HP-UX and Solaris. I never really took the time I should have to learn other Operating Systems. Then we lost our biggest customer (the one that caused the boom in the first place). I thought since I had been there for quite some time that I would not be in the first round of layoff’s. I was wrong.

      I wish I had learned HP-UX better (though I hated it) and maybe even some Solaris. Now I am working as a secretary making 1/4 of what I was at my previous job.

    9. shaky bacon*

      I have SO MANY regrets of mistakes I made, especially when I was younger (late teens/early 20’s), stuff I look back on and cringe. Having said that, I don’t know that I would want to go back and change them because making those mistakes has resulted in many valuable lessons and self-awareness moments that I’m thankful for.

      The only thing I would consider going back and changing is finishing my degree. I quit after the first year. It has absolutely nothing to do with the work I do today, but I think having any degree would’ve helped me tremendously. I’ve tried to go back and get a degree, but it’s just not going to happen for me based on timing, resources, etc.

      1. Windchime*

        My biggest regret is also not finishing my degree. I didn’t even do a full year; I got freaked out and quit, came home and got married. My life has turned out fine but I think about all those years of wasted potential.

    10. AndersonDarling*

      I should have given up on bad jobs (toxic workplaces) sooner, but I didn’t understand how much a bad workplace drains your whole life. I kept fighting it out until it got really bad and had to leave.

      1. Tris Prior*

        yup! Also, identifying the problem as “toxic workplace,” not “I am not good enough.” For the longest time I thought the problem was me.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. I did not insist on working for places that treated people decently. I thought that I had to toughen up, or all work places were like that etc. I always had some rationale. I kept dragging myself to and from work and wondering why it was so difficult.

    11. Annie O*

      I wish I had made family-friendly career choices back in college. At the time, kids were the farthest thing from my mind and I didn’t take them into account when choosing a career. I was more focused on doing something I enjoyed and getting a good salary. Now I find myself in a traditional, male-dominated field that is pretty family-unfriendly.

      1. CT*

        On a more serious note – I’m still at the ‘more focused on doing something I enjoy and getting a good salary’ part so I can’t offer practical advice but have you read “Ask for it” by Linda Babcock and Sarah Laschever? It talks about how in many cases, by figuring out what you want your work/life balance to look like and actually asking for it, you might be surprised at what a male-dominated field would accommodate. It gives tips for actually putting this into practice too.

        1. Annie O*

          No luck yet, but I do have some hope that things will change. It’s getting harder to recruit top talent and there’s also a shortage in the college pipeline. Our policies need to be more competitive with industry norms.

          1. Annie O*

            Sorry, I shouldn’t have said industry norms. I mean general workplace norms. (My industry is the problem.)

    12. OriginalYup*

      Not really. I mean, I’ve had my share (maybe more) of lousy jobs and bad bosses and lunatic coworkers. But they were all important experiences for how to not/do something, and even the really awful experiences ultimately led to something else that was worthwhile.

      I guess the only thing I’d change if I had it to do over would be my own reactions and worries to the stuff that seemed incredibly important at the time. Like I spent one job perpetually overworking in order to meet an ever-receding target, but now I have more perspective on what’s feasible and I’d manage it differently. Which I wouldn’t have without the bad experience. :-)

    13. StaminaTea*

      I regret going to college. Seriously. I got a degree in English, and it was a bad idea to choose a major when I was young and dumb. If I could do it again, I would take a couple of years off to just work, or I would join the Air Force.

      I think that making young people decide what major to spend tens of thousands of dollars on before their brains are finished developing is a terrible idea. (Your brain doesn’t finish developing until you’re 25).

      1. LPBB*

        I completely agree. I wish I had had the guts to not go straight to college or even take a year off midway through. I really really had no clue of who I really was or what I wanted at that age.

        1. College Career Counselor*

          I’m a big proponent of taking a gap year before (or even during) college. The students I see do this make huge gains in terms of maturity, academic focus, determination, etc. They are therefore better students (and future job applicants) than their peers. Unfortunately, the gap year idea is not typically seen by parents, society, etc. as a good thing.

          “You’ll never finish your degree.” “You’ll starve.” “I won’t be able to support you.” These are all things I hear from students who tell me their parents are against it. Parents want their children to LAUNCH, and a gap year feels like a detour at best and a disaster (or a parental failure) at worst.

      2. Anonymous Analyst*

        Me, too. There was a tremendous amount of pressure on me to attend college, but no advice on what to study. My family even told me it didn’t matter, all that mattered is the degree; the degree alone guaranteed a job. At one point, I was encouraged to study Greek mythology (“you like it and once you have that degree you can go anywhere”). No one in my family had gone to college. We just didn’t know any better.

        1. Kelly L.*

          I would love to get to go study Greek mythology right now! :D Not for my career, just because. Or get someone to give me college credit for all the pleasure reading I’ve done on the topic!

        2. Anoners*

          I took Classis in Uni (so, greek mythology etc.). It is useless, but I knew I was going to grad school for LIS, so I didn’t really care. If I could go back I’d probably take engineering or something STEM related. I do work in libraries though, so it wasn’t all for naught.

          1. LAI*

            This is funny because my regret is that I *didn’t* major in classics in college. I took a few classes and I always thought Greek mythology was so cool but I didn’t have time to learn greek or latin so I didn’t do it. I work in a field where your major doesn’t really matter as long as you have a bachelor’s degree from a decently reputable university.

      3. Marie*

        Agreed. I actually dropped out for a few months and just worked much to everyone’s horror. I got so much flack from family and friends that I went back. I wish instead that I had stuck to dropping out, worked and supported myself for a longer period of time and then went back to college when I had my head on straight and knew what I wanted. We push college too hard and too soon on kids that either aren’t ready or aren’t interested. They end up on the other side with useless degrees and too much debt for entry level jobs.

      4. Tris Prior*

        Agreed – though, I think I am the only person I know who’s managed to find consistent employment with a useless English degree. (though right now I’m not using my degree, I spent many years in publishing.)

        Actually I sort of wish I’d learned a trade! At my high school, this was Simply Not Done if you were on the honors track. You went to college and got a degree in something intellectual; you didn’t learn how to wire houses or fix plumbing or do anything useful.

        1. Smilingswan*

          In my school system, we had a choice to go to the technical high school for a trade, or to regular public school. Hardly anyone went to the tech, it was considered to be for stupid people and losers. Ha! The joke’s on all the college prep kids, cause now those plumbers and mechanics are making bank and people like myself, who majored in Art History, can barely find a job that will put food on the table.

      5. Kit F.*

        I had a friend who didn’t go to college right out of high school and modeled instead, making pretty good money. I remember her parents and other friends’ parents talking disapprovingly of her choice. One of them said to me, “Do you know how hard it is to go back to school later in life?”

        Um, not that hard if you have money saved up? I was 18 and I was just astonished how dense everyone was about this. There’s this entrenched idea that the most sensible and virtuous thing you can do is go to school, and people can’t see past it.

      6. Who Are You?*

        Interesting. I have a different viewpoint. I took a year off and regret that. I wish I had gone to college right away, really invested the time in my education, and then pursued a career within my major. Instead, I took a year off, went to some rinky dink school a year later, got a degree in something that was fun to study but was not at all prepared for the competition in my major post college. (For the record, I have a degree in media technology and have never, not once, used it in a job!!!)

      7. Susan*

        I went to college for a year at 18 and did fine… was dean’s list and everything but took time off to work after that year because I wasn’t happy with my major/life/etc. When I went back to school at 24, I was so focused, and exposed to so much more out there. I knew what I liked and there was a certain urgency that turned into a good work ethic because I knew how hard living on $11/hr was.

        My biggest argument is just we’re exposed to so little at 18. I think a lot of people pick English majors because in high school that’s what we know: English, history, math and science. We don’t have to think in context to how this translates into a career and there’s a whole plethora of subjects we might love but haven’t had a chance to come across yet.

      8. The Maple Teacup*

        Yup. I hear you. My biggest career regret is going to university. I should have taken a year long college certificate in something, not seven years of “how does this help me now?” But I got suckered into the whole “university opens doors!” Mantra. Entry job advertisements in my field claim you need 1-2 years of doing X and a bachelors or diploma in Y. Ha! They’ll hire anybody. They’ve hired people with only a background in graphic design or people with a grade 9 education. Which has nothing to do with the job. I look at my high school drop out friends and feel like the stupid one.

    14. Sunflower*

      I’d say I wish taking a gap year was the norm in the US. I would have loved to spend a year or two figuring things out before committing to a major(that I hated it)

      I wish I would have utilized career services more in college- in fact, there were so many things available to me and networking opportunities in college that I wish I had used. My university has one of the best career centers in the country and I think I used it the summer after I graduated when I had a quarter life ‘what am i doing with my life crisis. I should have also done an unpaid internship in college which my mother told me was a bad idea!

    15. Mimmy*

      Ohh yes!! Not seeking out proper advice as to the most appropriate career paths once I finished grad school. I have a tendency to overestimate what I can handle, then end up getting myself in a tizzy, making my life more complicated than it needs to be.

    16. Tinker*

      It’s kind of a weird thing — I have some incidents that I really didn’t enjoy while they were happening (most notably, my seven-month sentence to doing building electrical design, DO NOT RECOMMEND), and there are some things that I could have done in a much cleaner way (wanted as a kid to “work with teh computerz”, went to school and got two EE degrees, actual job: work with teh computerz).

      However, there were reasons at the time why I did all those things, and I’m not convinced that I would know now why they weren’t such good ideas had I not done them. I had to learn the hard way, for instance, that if you don’t factor quality of life into your decisions then you will not have quality of life. I also had a lot of neat experiences in my career because I took the “engineer” path instead of the “developer” path — looking back on it, being a junior engineer was much more interesting than being a junior developer likely would have been, plus I get to wear the ring.

      So…. weh?

      Probably would not have bought the damn house in Pueblo, though, knowing what I know now.

      1. Ali*

        Ooooh I have thought about this a lot lately!

        I didn’t think until late in college that I might actually want to work for a sports team. It was late junior/early senior year. Once I researched it further after college to wonder why I never seemed to be getting calls for even the most basic of jobs (ticket sales is a big entry level position in sports), I found out I should’ve had 3-4 internships in college plus worked for my school’s athletic department and found ways to volunteer. You basically have to do working for free overload or have a really good connection to get a job. I did an internship with a weekly newspaper and had customer service experience elsewhere, but it was not enough for these teams. They all kept saying I didn’t have experience.

        The lesson? I wish I had realized this path in like my freshman year and put in all the hard work then. I could be working with a team today.


    17. Stephanie*

      In a “grass is always greener on the other side” situation, turning down my other job offers senior year for FirstJob. FirstJob was AWFUL. But, to be fair, I had no real indication that the other jobs would have necessarily been better.

      Related to FirstJob, not jumping ship soon enough. I wanted it to work out so badly that I put up with more than I should have. I also assumed FirstJob would be like college, where I could just power through the tough stuff and come out with a good grade in the end.

      Also, I regret not researching my field enough prior to working in it. I worked in a niche field, only to discover it was a terrible fit. I did do informational interviews, but I didn’t know the right things to ask or realize that my interviewees weren’t being honest about the downsides. So I hopped into it and find myself struggling to get out of it. (It doesn’t help that the perception is that it’s a lucrative, exciting field.)

    18. Lamington*

      not going to law school and getting in so much tuition debt :( ill be paying that until i die. Now post recession im in the same position job wise in IT that j was before so my law degree is a vanity degree. Also working in the law firm from hell.

      1. Sunflower*

        I wanted to be a divorce lawyer and thought about law school til someone told me its hard getting clients to pay

        One day, just for fun, I googled ‘Why I should go to law school’ and got a whole page of results on why a person SHOULD NOT go to law school. One of the best ones was written by tucker max, who went to law school but never took the bar- he became a famous writer because he’s a jerk and hilarious

      2. MK*

        I regret going to law school too. I always considered myself a nerd but law school almost killed my love of learning and reading books. If I had a time machine, I would’ve brushed up on my math skills and try going to medical school… though I’ve read that medical professionals have high rates of professional frustration too.

      3. LawSchoolNOPE*

        Same here. I learned a lot in law school and enjoyed the experience in a way, but vanity degree is an awesome way to describe it. I feel the same. I too worked in the law firm from hell and will pay loans until I die.

    19. Amanda*

      Getting so much graduate education before I was sure about what career I wanted to pursue. I’ll be paying off these student loans forever, and I feel locked into this career because of the amount of education I have.

    20. TaterB*

      Wow, great question. If I’m really honest, my biggest regret would have to be all the job-hopping I did in my 20s. I left because of perceived mistreatment and unfairness. I had the unfortunate experience of dealing with one really hostile workplace; at the first sign of disagreement in the next few places, I would be on the hunt for a new job. I have come to realize that a lot of it has to do with me. No job is perfect all the time, but I owe it to myself to “shake it off” and keep moving.

      The other regret? Completely neglecting retirement savings in my 20s! Yikes!

    21. Rev*

      Blowing my first year in college (Playboy’s #2 party school @ that time), by not missing any of the parties/extracurricular activities. Then, to make matters worse, I actually pledged a frat, thereby turning the whole party thing up a notch.

      Dumb. Just dumb.

  12. Teaching?*

    Any teachers here? I’ve become increasingly disillusioned with office life, and I keep coming up with different career paths for me to take, which seems to indicate that I’m not very happy doing what I’m doing.

    It seems like teaching might be a good fit for me–on the go a lot, active, engaging with students and doing a lot of work. The downtime of an office really gets to me. I have a BA in History so I could do history, social studies, civics I suppose. But I’m not sure if it’s the right thing for me to do. Any suggestions?

    1. Jax*

      You’d have to go back to school for a Masters in Education, which isn’t cheap, and then you have to cross your fingers that a middle school/high school social studies slot opens up at a school district in your area.

      Worst case scenario: You invest in a masters degree and end up on the substitute teacher list, desperately trying to get “in” with the superintendent and principals so they will think of you when a position opens…and eventually you give up and head back to office life.

      Best case scenario: You breeze through student teaching and your school loves you so much they slide you right into a dream classroom teaching exactly the subject you love.

      I have a history degree, too, and I’ve thought long and hard about it. The gamble is too great so I’ve decided to stick it out as an office dweller.

      1. Sunflower*

        Yes location is everything. I think DC and Northern VA is in need of teachers but Philadephia is tough to get into a good district. I have friends who graduated 4 years ago still subbing and it took my roommate 6 years of subbing to get into a good place. Some people have to take inner city jobs ( I think they give loan forgiveness though) or go to Catholic schools(low pay)

        1. Teaching?*

          I’m fine with moving–in fact, I’m looking to move in the next 1-2 years anyway. I’ve been in New York for over 15 years and I’m getting fed up with it. So going where I could get a job is not a problem for me.

          1. Jax*

            If you’re able to move–then I’d say go for it! Especially since you were a sub for a few months and know what you’re getting into.

            My sister finished school in Ohio and moved to the Myrtle Beach area to teach middle school English. It’s a minority school and she has had problems (gang trouble, getting hurt while breaking kids up in a fight) but she loves what she does.

            I’m too afraid to invest the money and then uproot my family to try it. I’m notorious for hating whatever job I have within 2 years–I can’t fall into that problem with an expensive teaching degree behind me.

      2. Teaching?*

        Do you really need a Masters in Education, though? I’ve heard varying things on that. I would be loathe to go back to school, especially since I already invested three years getting an MLS that I don’t use.

        1. BCW*

          It really depends on your background and what you end up teaching. I had a science degree, so that allowed me to get into charter schools (or catholic schools) and teach science. I ended up teaching math as well. But I was never certified. I did take exams that made me “highly qualified” though

        2. Jax*

          You can teach at some private schools with a Bachelors in anything, but they do not pay well. For public schools you must have a teaching degree.

          1. Judy*

            In our state, there’s a way to get a license and the universities have a one year transitional degree for late career change teachers. In fact, one of the universities has a fellowship that they take a cohort of 25 or so each year and pay some stipend and the tuition.

            It’s mostly focused on math/science, and I’m sure it varies by state.

            1. Judy*

              I also think you can get a secondary teaching license (high school) if you have a degree in the subject AND take a list of X number of education courses in my state.

              It’s like you don’t have to have a biology pre-med degree to get into med school, you just have to make sure you’ve taken the right courses.

          2. Anonymous Educator*

            When people say private schools don’t pay well, are they just looking at base salary, and then just at averages? I’ve worked in both public and private schools, and I’ve been involved in hiring, and it’s not really that straightforward to say that private schools don’t pay well.

            First of all, private schools vary widely in terms of the resources they have and what they allocate to teacher salaries. Some private schools have tens or hundreds of millions in endowment and really think nothing of using salaries to pull in what they consider the best teaching talent. Of course, some private schools are very close to in the red and are very tuition-driven for funding, so the teacher salaries there are low.

            Secondly, at your typical non-sectarian private school, you usually have a lot of other perks (over a typical public school) that might make up for the lack of straight salary:

            1. Smaller class sizes
            2. Lighter teaching load
            3. Fewer days to teach during the year
            4. More supportive administration
            5. Free, catered lunch
            6. More motivated students, more involved parents
            7. You don’t have to pay for school supplies out of your own pocket
            8. No jumping through certification hoops–only relevant professional development
            9. Freedom to teach what you, the school, and the parents deem important, not necessarily teaching to an arbitrary standardized test
            10. Believe it or not, depending on what public school you’re comparing to and what financial aid resources the private school has, possibly more racial and economic diversity in the student population

            All that said, Teaching? did mention history as a possible subject, and history (along with English) is extremely competitive in private schools. If you wanted to be a science or math teacher, you’d be in high demand.

            1. Jax*

              I’m speaking from my local area, where private school means Christian schools, and the salary is under $25,000. Meanwhile state teachers (Pennsylvania) make $40,000-$60,000.

              I’m sure an exclusive private school would have the funds to pay much more and recruit highly desirable professionals. Teaching? is looking to change careers and start out as a 1st year teacher, so those positions probably aren’t very realistic. Unless she’s currently a prominent historian/author/journalist with an impressive resume I don’t see how someone could walk into one of those positions.

              And just to show how overrun with teachers PA is…my friend beat out 300 applicants to land her high school English teaching spot at 36. It helped that her husband is also employed at the school.

        3. Stephanie*

          Depends on the district/school. There are programs like Teach for America or NYC Teaching Fellows that provide alternative certification paths outside a masters degree.

          1. TL*

            For what it’s worth, TFA has a pretty terrible reputation among people who make a career out of educating. It does not really prepare you to teach.

            1. Stephanie*

              I applied, interviewed, and definitely got the vibe that it was Peace Corps for underprivileged schools. During the application process, I kept hearing about how “good” the experience would look for graduate/professional schools or prestigious partner companies and that teaching was something you could do before your “real” career.

              A close friend did TFA and said she was horribly underprepared for teaching in high-needs district.

              Of course, all that being said, I have met people who stuck around in education after their stint was up. I’m still undecided if it’s actually a good thing or not.

              I do know there are some alternative certification programs that are designed for those who want to stay in teaching indefinitely.

              1. TL*

                My friend works in an underprivileged school and she’s worked with people who have done TFA and most of them, as well as her professors in her M.Ed program, agree with your friend’s experience. There’s a lot of debate about whether or not it actually does any good.
                There are alternative certification programs that are worth looking into, however.

                1. Stephanie*

                  I respect the TFA mission (which is what led me to apply), but it does seem like new teachers get thrown into the absolute toughest situations initially, career-wise, without little preparation. My friend said the training didn’t really drive home the realities of teaching in a high-needs district. Coupled with the learning curve of starting a new job, the day-to-day realities were overwhelming and made her feel pretty ineffective as a teacher.

                  I’m also not a huge fan of the anti-union rhetoric, but that’s more a personal political preference.

                2. TL*

                  Yeah, that’s the main problem with it. First year teachers aren’t generally very good anyway, so coupled with the lack of training and short work terms – well, honestly I think the program is more about making privileged kids feel like they’ve “done their part” than it is about helping underprivileged kids.

            2. AGirlCalledFriday*

              I’m going to go ahead and just say that as a teacher, I literally hate Teach for America. There was a time and a place for it – the time was when there were too few teachers, and the place was any school that didn’t have enough teachers to effectively education and so needed to draw from other educated citizens. These situations do not apply now.

              Please understand, I truly believe that those who apply for TFA are good people and they want to help. But really, what they are doing currently is taking jobs away from people who have dedicated years to the science and art education. I’m sorry, but a summer bootcamp does NOT prepare people in any way to be an actual teacher. What’s more, TFA sends the message that ANYONE can be a teacher. It’s deprofessionalizing teaching as a career. It is absolutely NOT ok to saddle students, especially needy students, with substandard teachers, the majority of whom leave after their contract. Many of them try to get into administrative positions with practically no experience in teaching. No, 2 years in a classroom is really not enough to start creating educational policy! I really hope that anyone who supports TFA realizes the damage that the agency, and by extension its extremely well-meaning ‘teachers’, are doing to the field of education.

              1. Stephanie*

                I do think TFA’s proliferation is unfortunately telling about how education is viewed as a career. I can’t imagine in any other profession using a similar volunteer corps model.

                Litigate for America? Where you do a five-week boot camp and then go on to litigate tenant cases in an inner city community?

                Operate for America? Where you do a five-week surgery bootcamp and then go become a surgeon on an Indian reservation?

                Of course those would never happen, because people view those professions (and others) as ones that take a lot of training and skill. It’s unfortunate that teaching’s viewed as something that any reasonably intelligent person can do.

                I do think the average TFAer is well-meaning and believes in the mission. Maybe the solution is to have the corps members be teacher’s aides/paraprofessionals for their contract instead.

                1. AGirlCalledFriday*

                  I love the idea of teacher’s aides, or assistants! I pretty much adore everything you wrote. The problem is NOT the graduates who get involved, they are usually well-meaning and aren’t seeing the bigger picture. But for those who do…

                  Part of the problem is that even though these graduates are inadequately trained and have less experience, they somehow get into administrative policy where other more qualified individuals do not. There’s something going on behind the scenes for this to happen.

              2. Anon for this*

                Here’s the thing though: TFA corps members make up less than 1% of entry level teachers. Less than 3% of all alumni of the program (across all 24 years of corps cohorts) are school administrators. (A third are still classroom teachers.) It’s cool to have issues with TFA. Heck, I work at TFA and I have issues with TFA (it would be weird to find a staff member who doesn’t, honestly). But to act like TFA corps members are some highly significant trend driver in the national teaching force? No.

                It’s a really convenient fiction that all traditionally educated teachers enter the field because they love students and stay for their whole careers, while we just pick random Ivy Leaguers off the streets and place them in a classroom until they go to business school, but that’s just not the case. Corps members have better retention in schools in low income communities during their first two years than the average for all teachers. About half of all teachers leave the classroom after five years. More corps members than that leave the classroom (can’t find the exact stat–I think it’s about 60%) but today 80% of all alumni work with and in low income communities.

                Are there things we could be doing better to retain high-performing teachers in the classroom? Definitely (and what do you know, we’re actually doing just that in a variety of pilots across the country). Is there more we could be doing to partner with the communities where our corps members and alumni teach and work? UM, heck yes (big part of my team’s work). Is there way more we could be doing to make sure that corps members have the preparation and support they need to reach their potential in the classroom? YEP (and that’s a constant focus of evaluation and reform within our organization).

                But. I just really don’t have time for this idea that TFA has taken over and ruined teaching, what with our miniscule proportion of the teaching force, and the fact that we didn’t invent teaching as a high turnover profession. We ALL need to talk about how to support teachers and make sure the great ones can stay in the classroom. This is not a TFA issue.

                1. AGirlCalledFriday*

                  I respectfully disagree. TFA is an organization that is part of destroying education, and undermining hard working teachers. TFA may be a “minuscule proportion of the teaching force” but it’s alumni are in leadership positions and are doing damage.

                  TFA targets high needs schools with the aim to destroy educational inequalities. In fact, it makes them worse. Placing graduates who contract for 2 years, when 80% of them leave the classroom, does a disservice to these students who above all need stability. Placing teachers who do not have enough training and expecting them to effectively teach is doing a disservice not only to the students, but to the community in general. These kids cannot afford to lose a year while a TFA recruit ‘figures it out’. If their education is faulty, they will continue their educational career without basics that they sorely need. When they continue to live in their community after graduation, they have less means to effect change.

                  The people bankrolling TFA believe in standardized testing, removing highly paid veteran teachers that they have demonized as ‘lazy and inept’, union busting, and building charter schools which often fail. There is MASSIVE potential to make a substantial buck on education, and don’t believe for a second that they don’t know it. It’s business, not a sudden outcry for the plight of the downtrodden. The actual problems in education The problems inherent with education – not enough support for 1st year teachers, overworking teachers, pay that does not reflect what teachers actually do and their place in society, a community that does not respect or appreciate teachers, lack of authority and support to educate and discipline without fear of being sued, fired, or screamed at by parents, the inability to live like an adult without being judged constantly by a society that doesn’t want to see you as a real person – are not remotely helped by TFA. The message that TFA sends out, with or without intention, is that regular teachers are the problem, and that we aren’t doing our jobs. That anyone can teach, that you don’t need to professionalize teaching, that a person who spends a very limited time in the classroom is conversant enough with educational psychology and practice to create policy.

                  Ever notice that higher-income school districts don’t hire TFAs? That’s because no parent ANYWHERE would want a barely trained novice teaching their kids. There’s no denying 1st year teachers struggle, and no teacher considers themselves a ‘decent’ teacher until maybe their 4-5th year. But until that 1st year, traditional teachers spend years learning about child psychology. pedagogy, behavior management, curriculum planning, assessment, and child disorders/disabilities. We observe, discuss, and reflect for years before we are even allowed to teach a child. The nation’s top 10% TFA does not do a noticeably better job than any other 1st year teacher. That sounds like a positive until you think about it – the very brightest graduates in our country aren’t a noticeable improvement over an average traditional 1st year teacher.

                  In Chicago, there are thousands of laid off teachers, as well as new graduates and transplants from the burbs and other states. TFA sent 350 teachers to a city with a major surplus. Those positions should have gone to trained teachers. Also, TFA plans to expand into the areas where schools have closed, meaning that TFA is on the verge of a major moneymaking venture. Charter schools have been proven to NOT do better than another other traditional school, AND they exclude those with disabilities, low English ability, and behavior disorders in order to keep test scores high. More than that, they employ young teachers that they overwork to death, and because there is no union, these teachers have no recourse to better their situations.

                  TFA was created as an answer for a teaching shortage, so that the worst schools could have someone coming in every day. These recruits didn’t kid themselves about being ‘real’ teachers. Their agenda is vastly different at this time, and is no longer a benefit, but a detriment, to children.

        4. Mints*

          This varies by state. In California, an extra year for certification is required. Also there are no education majors, only minors. Although I know teachers from other states who taught their major subject without more formal training.

          Also TFA might be worth looking into if you’re willing to move and teach in tough districts

        5. Laura*

          Here you need a Bachelors of Education, which would be one year…but it’s still going back to school, and it’s still money. I don’t think you can teach in a public school without going back to school for some kind of education degree.

        6. AmyNYC*

          Can you do Teach for America or a similar program if you’re not straight out of college? A few friends did TFA and got some help paying for their Masters and certifications

          1. Anon for this*

            TFA staff member here. You absolutely can apply for the corps at any stage of your career (about a quarter of our incoming corps are current graduate students or professionals).

            But I’ll caution that TFA is not a general entry point into education. If you’re not specifically interested in serving in low-income communities, and in educational equity beyond just your individual classroom, another route will be a better one for you.

          2. Stephanie*

            I applied to TFA three years post-college. I ended up not getting picked (but made it to the final round), but a buddy the same age (also three years out of college) joined TFA and did her two-year term.

              1. Anon for this*

                Hey-o. There are quite a few of us who read AAM regularly–at least, that I’ve talked to around the “water cooler.” (National team, all over the country, no actual water cooler.)

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I wonder if you TFAers here know that my book on management was co-authored with TFA’s former COO? I do a lot of work with his organization, The Management Center, and he is awesome.

                2. AnotherTFAer*

                  I do! In fact, my team sent all our managers to a Management Center training together. And at our last conference I saw the book peeking out of someone’s bag. I actually said “Hey, I know that author!” before remembering that I don’t actually know you.

        7. LAI*

          You do not need a master’s degree. You need a credential. You might want to look into teacher residency programs like the one in Boston, intern teacher program or alternative certification programs – these programs basically let you start teaching and earning money right away and some include tuition remission. A master’s degree will get you a higher salary once you are hired but you should do the math and figure out if it’s worth the extra time and tuition money for you. Also, keep in mind that the most in-demand fields for teaching are pretty consistently math, science and special education. There is generally not high demand for social science teachers. If you’re having trouble finding a position though, you could consider private schools or charter schools.

      3. Aisling*

        I think this varies by state. In my state, you just need a Bachelor’s in the subject that you want to teach, and then you can do alternative certification. You’d still need to take a few courses, but wouldn’t need to do another entire degree.

    2. Sunflower*

      I’m not a teacher but I have lots of friends who are. The biggest issues it seems are dealing with parents and administration- esp budgets. Parents are NUTS- they want what they want and the kids are still too young to really speak up for themselves. It seems like every year they are getting more students and there is not as much special ed help as they need so often kids with special needs are in the wrong classrooms.

      I hear a lot about teachers getting paid crap but all of them make more than me(for now) and don’t work summers. My roommate works in one of the highest paid districts in the country and started at $60,000 with a masters. You can’t advance the way you can in corporate world and your salary will eventually hit a cap so that is something you have to deal with.

      My friends who are teachers are very happy though and say they can’t imagine doing anything else.

    3. Diet Coke Addict*

      I’d really, really think hard about it. Teaching is very hard if you are not a dedicated teacher. In many, many places it requires advanced degrees (B.Ed, special course) and in tons of places it’s an incredibly hard field to break into right now. Do you have any teaching experience?

      Also, do you like bureaucracy? Because lots and lots and lots of teaching is not working with students, but working with administrators, crabby parents, and other non-student people. And there is a LOT of post-school-hours work to be done in grading and planning. Many schools also require teachers to do some kind of extracurricular–coach a sport, work with the musical, etc.

      I have many many teachers in my friends and family, and for those who want to teach, it’s awesome. But I also know a bunch who got burned out easily by unsupportive administration and other problems, and are now feeling really disillusioned.

      1. Teaching?*

        I have some teaching experience, but not a ton. I substitute taught for about 6 months, but that was 10 years ago.

        1. Sigrid*

          Things have changed a lot in the last ten years. (My mother is a teacher, so I have some knowledge.) I’d highly suggest doing some more substitute teaching now, if you can, to see what the differences are and whether you still enjoy it, before investing the time and money into a career change.

      2. AdAgencyChick*

        Agree. My mother taught special ed for many years before she retired, and she really got a lot of satisfaction out of how far she got with the kids — but then it would drive her crazy dealing with administrative messes. I imagine it’s far worse now — she retired more than 10 years ago — because parents seem far more helicopter-y and apt to blame the teacher if Darling Angel isn’t making perfect marks.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        The bureaucracy and listening to teachers in my master’s program is what led me to quit it. I didn’t want to get a doctorate and that was the only way I could avoid teaching in secondary school.

        I think teaching is a calling. To be really good at it, you have to WANT to do it.

    4. SimpleeInspired*

      I’m not a teacher but I have family members who are currently teachers. If you’re not sure if you definitely want to go into teaching, I would suggest you apply for Teach for America or Teaching Fellows. You don’t need an education degree and it’s only for two years. If you decide afterwards that you want to go back to office life, those programs do look good on your resume. Keep in mind though, the salary might be much lower than what you’re receiving now.

      FYI, it also depends on what schools you teach in and how the students are. Teachers with little to no experience can easily become targets for students.

      1. wanderlust*

        Just an add on to this – TFA salaries are paid by the district, not the organization – I don’t know about Teaching Fellows. So whatever a normal entry-level teacher is getting paid to teach there, that’s what you’ll get. I think it’s probably a good indicator of salary versus an office job, unless you’re thinking you want to work at an elite private school, etc. in the long term.

        I’d also caution that TFA is not necessarily an accurate representation of all that it means to be a teacher. They train you for two weeks over the summer and then put you in a classroom, and I have heard that in some areas, support during your time is less-than-great. However, should you decide you love it, in a lot of cases they will pay for your Masters degree while you’re in the classroom. There has been a lot of controversy about programs like these that I think is worth looking into. You have to have a real passion for education to succeed in teaching regardless of the path you choose, and I think in many cases these types of programs don’t set you up for success.

        1. Anon*

          It’s true that TFA is a highly accelerated program, but the summer training is 5-6 weeks. As a TFA staff member who helps with hiring, we look for people who show signs of being able to handle that accelerated pace and navigate the difficulties of first year teaching. No hiring process is fool-proof, of course, but 2/3 of our Corps Members stay in education beyond their two year commitment, so we seem to be on a positive path. I agree that teaching and TFA is not for everyone – it’s a career shift that requires a lot of honest reflection.

        2. TL*

          Yup. My bestie teaches in an inner-city charter school that deliberately targets kids who don’t do well in mainstream schools and she went in with 2+ semesters of observation, 2+ years of student teaching, and a M.Ed. And

            1. Anon for this*

              But apparently neither was your friend’s preparation, right? The thing is, academic preparation and observations and degrees just can’t prepare you for the realities of a high needs classroom. No matter what. Traditional ed programs give all the prep up front, TFA focuses more of its support on your time in the classroom (depends on the region what this looks like, but usually regular coaching including real-time coaching, plus professional development opportunities each month and learning communities as you go).

              The reality is, teaching is really tough, and there’s pretty much no way to prepare yourself completely to stand in front of a room full of kids. Some people will really thrive with lots of prep up front, others will be more successful learning by doing. Both models prepare some but not all folks well.

    5. ella*

      You said below you substitute taught awhile ago, maybe look into seeing what qualifications you’d have to meet to do that again? The bar for entry is probably not quite as high, you’re less likely to have to deal with parents (I have no idea how much admin/bureaucracy you’d escape), and it’d give you a sense of if you like it enough to do it full time.

    6. BCW*

      As a former teacher, I think you need to figure out if you really have the passion for it, because what you would need to do to get in the door at this point will be such a pain in the ass, that if it doesn’t work out it will really suck. And its not like an education degree will open a ton of doors outside of education. I taught 8th grade and thoroughly enjoyed parts of it. That is probably the worst age, but i liked the kids. The adults (parents and administrators) were the problem. Also, it very much depends on where you can get a job. Yeah, working in inner city schools may feel like a great way to make a difference, but honestly they can suck big time. In the end, that parts I didn’t like outweighed what I did like, and I was in the process of getting an MBA anyway, so it was easier to get out.

    7. Stephanie*

      The teaching market seems pretty glutted in my area, unless you have some really in-demand, niche skills. For example, my sister’s bilingual special education teacher had her pick of schools (I live in Arizona).

      I know KIPP has a fellowship for career changers (or it did in DC at least). I think charter schools might pay worse and you don’t get the state benefits/pension, but they might be a little more lax with pre-hire requirements (like certification).

      I’ve thought about teaching and have a few friends who have taught. From what they’ve told me, you need to be really organized since it’s paperwork heavy. It’s also not 9 to 5.

      One friend did make the point that if you’re in a high-needs district (i.e., inner city or rural) that your job is so much more than teaching material and you’re expected to be a mentor, social worker, therapist and everything in between. She entered teaching from banking and said that was a huge transition for her.

      I’d check the market in your area (or desired area) for social studies teachers before you drop money on further certification or education.

      1. TL*

        KIPP – in SA anyways – pays about the same as the public school district. But the hours are much longer, so the per-hour wage would actually work out to be much less.

    8. Been There*

      I left the business world in the early 90s and went back to school to get a Masters degree in Elementary Education. It was the worst career decision I ever made. I’m in a big city and there were no teaching jobs available when I got out. What nobody here has mentioned are the politics involved in school systems. It was difficult to even break in as a substitute teacher. The only people I saw get jobs were the children of teachers or principals who had connections. Without connections or a degree in a shortage area, it was impossible to get in. I ended up returning to the business world and have had a successful career, but I look back and think what was I thinking.

    9. AndersonDarling*

      Western Governors University has an online program for education. I don’t know how good it is, but I know they have good IT programs that are accredited out the wazoo.
      They are affordable, but they are really made for people working in their field who need a degree- you can’t take WGU degree and transfer it to another university to get another degree.

    10. H. Vane*

      Tacking on to this: My husband is finishing his undergrad degree in art education with the intention of teaching elementary art. Is it harder or easier to get a position as an art, music, or other elective type subject teacher? We’re in Arizona, if it matters, and he’ll be certified by the time he gets his diploma.

      1. Amanda*

        It’s harder to get a job as a specials teacher (art, music, etc.) because there are less of them available. Many schools are also cutting those programs or cutting them back. However, the jobs are still there. If he has a hard time finding out, he can expand his search to districts that might be tougher or less “desirable”.

        1. H. Vane*

          Well, that pretty much encompasses the city of Tucson, so that’s good at least. Thank you!

          1. Stephanie*

            LOL. This made me giggle. There’s got to be at least one “nice” school. Does the Catalina Foothills have a different school district?

            1. H. Vane*

              There is a wide range, actually. He did observations at a little school right on the edge of Oro Valley that seems super nice – nice parents, sweet kids, happy staff. However, someone else in his teaching class observed a much worse school, where they lumped together the kids who didn’t get good grades, got in trouble, or just seemed super apathetic. This school openly called this group of kids (who, I believe get stuck with each other for all periods) the loser class. How horrible is that?

    11. Amanda*


      You do not need a Master’s degree unless you are in a state where it is required. I have taught in 3 states and none of them required a master’s degree (although I have 2).

      One way to get your foot in the door is to start teaching in a low-income or urban area. Once you get some experience under your belt, you can apply elsewhere. OR, you may find that you really enjoy working with at-risk kids and stay at your school.

      Teaching is rewarding, but like any career, it can also be stressful, frustrating, and full of red-tape. Social studies/history jobs can be more difficult to get, I’m not sure why. Perhaps there are more history majors on the market than there are math majors. But, that’s not to say there aren’t the jobs out there– there are.

      You could start by looking up the certification process in your state and finding out what you need to do. I would also suggest volunteering or subbing in a school (although the experience of a sub is NOT the same as the experience of teaching every day), or perhaps even observing in a classroom if you have a friend or family member that is a teacher.

      And whoever mentioned below that they have a friend who started at $60K per year as a teacher– wow, that’s certainly not the norm. I’ve been in education for 12 years and I am in the upper-mid 40’s (I have 2 masters degrees and a post-grad certificate). My partner has been a sped teacher for 4 years and he makes $36K. We live in New England.

      Good luck!

        1. Anoners*

          That’s insane! I think the norm here is around $60,000 – 70,000 or so. I was reading some article about a teacher who got fired for a ridiculous reason, and her take home pay was like 700 every two weeks. I was shocked!

          1. AGirlCalledFriday*

            Teacher here. If you can help it, don’t be a teacher.

            Yes, if you are called to it, teaching is wonderful. I love teaching, I love the kids. However, there are many problems with teaching that currently make it unattractive. One problem (and this depends on your area) is that there just aren’t enough jobs to go around. Colleges are churning out education majors, and there are only so many positions – it’s a limited pool no matter where you go. With the layoffs of thousands of teachers, finding a job has become extremely political – there are many who sub for years trying to get into it. Even districts and schools in dangerous areas have more applicants than they can handle.

            Aside from the difficulties in finding a job, is the job itself. Say goodbye to work/life balance and hello to never ending work and drama. The school hours are only times you are actively TEACHING. There are a few prep periods during the week (unless they are cancelled) that last 30 min-45 min or so and you spend them grading/cleaning/etc. There’s no time during the day to effectively plan lessons, attend meetings or conferences, plan events, organize or decorate your room (constantly needing to rotate student work and seasonal decorations), and all of the other myriad things you have to do which can only be done outside of work, which means you end up working well beyond the time that students leave.

            Aside from the work, there are discipline issues that are always present, students with mental and social disorders, bullying, distressing issues outside the classroom that end up affecting students, and pressure to make every lesson fun and interesting because when students are bored there are behavioral problems…and kids are bored really easily. Don’t expect much support from coworkers who are insanely busy themselves, administration, or parents. In fact, these often become problems just as they can in any other workplace.

            If you want to teach, you have to get used to being demonized in the media and receiving very little respect for the hard work you do. Get used to not spending time with your kids so that you can care for someone else’s kids, not being able to take bathroom breaks, losing your voice, being constantly sick, and getting emails and calls into the night from parents who think you gave out too much homework, not enough homework, too simplistic of homework, and too difficult homework all in the same evening.

            As for the holidays, which some call a perk, if you are a decent teacher you will be using those planning units projects as well as taking classes for professional development, if you don’t need to take a job to supplement your income which is most likely to be lower than the average professional. You don’t get paid for holidays – your salary is merely distributed so that you get a paycheck from the months you worked, during the months when you aren’t. So I, making about 27k a year in Chicago (private school, and I was lucky to get it) with a masters degree, was only receiving 27k for the time I was working. I wasn’t getting paid any time that I wasn’t in class. Many teachers can’t afford to take summers off.

            I’ve posted upthread about Teach For America. I’ll reiterate here – PLEASE don’t support the program. It was instituted during a time when there weren’t enough teachers. At this time, TFA is taking jobs away from qualified teachers so that graduates who are not adequately trained or prepped can teach kids in needy schools who desperately need quality educators. Many who taught through TFA left – about 80% – and went into administrative positions where they get paid more, but they have very, VERY little actual teaching experience. 2 years is not even enough time for a fully trained teacher to be considered expert enough to direct educational policy. Again – I have nothing against those who have joined TFA as I know they have been trying to do good. But suggestions about joining programs that do not adequately prepare teachers does a disservice not only to the person asking the questions, but also to the field of education and all educators.

            1. Teaching?*

              What grade do you teach?

              Thanks for the feedback–I definitely want to go into this with my eyes open.

  13. louise*

    Flying today — while stuck waiting for a delayed flight, a young man sat down on the floor near me and started drumming on the edge of the empty seat next to me (connected to my seat, so not only could I hear it, I could feel it). I couldn’t figure out how to nicely ask him to stop so I stayed quiet thinking he’d get bored. He did not and all the sudden I found myself saying “I’m so glad you’re having in because I know it’s boring waiting, but would you PLEASE stop?!” Not in my nice voice, either. I felt rude though–and that’s what irks me! HE was the rude one, but because I couldn’t figure out how to be nice, I stooped to the rude level too. Hate it when I let someone else bring out the worst in me.

    1. Celeste*

      I would either stare at his fingers or try to move if possible. I’m not good at confrontation with strangers.

    2. Elkay*

      I’ve done that, in my head I’m thinking nice polite ways of saying something then my mouth opens and my frustrations come out.

    3. Arjay*

      I do this too. I think if I addressed the irritant right away, I’d be nicer and more civil about it. But instead I try to ignore it, and then stew over it, and wait until I simply cannot take it any more, and then I sound nasty and exasperated. And I do feel bad because that’s the first inkling the offender knows there’s an issue. (Assuming my huffs and eye rolls aren’t as obvious as I think they are!)

    4. Worker Parasite*

      I’ve been in the exact same boat – I don’t know what it is, but travelling makes me the worst passive aggressive human being alive.

  14. Anonimly*

    So, I had a phone interview on Tuesday with {Giant Online Retailer} and thought it went well. Coincidentally, a friend of mine had applied for that same job. On Wednesday, Friend tells me she got an email saying the role had been filled. I did not receive said email. On Thursday, I got a call from the person I interviewed with, telling me the position was filled but that they really like me, and she was going to look and see if there were any other roles where I could fit. I’m sure nothing will come of it, but it still made me feel like less of a loser for not getting the job.

    1. Agile Phalanges*

      It’s awkward job hunting alongside and while friends or acquaintances with your competition, isn’t it? My company is closing our entire office, so we’re all job hunting in the same small community, and of course those of us with similar skill sets are applying to the same jobs. A co-worker and I were chatting about our respective job searches, and I mentioned applying somewhere and getting an invitation to interview, and he hadn’t gotten one. Oops. Awkward! But it turns out he did end up getting asked to interview, so now we’re both interviewing next week. Wonder if we’ll see each other there. :-) I’m pretty cool with it (hey, they’re gonna choose the best person for them and adding ONE more person to the mix isn’t likely to alter my chances, really), and we’re all really civil, but it does kinda suck.

      1. Anonimly*

        It is awkward! Especially because our skill sets are similar, but not the same. And because Friend is unemployed while I am not. We seem to be navigating ok for now, though.

  15. Anonymous Now*

    This is embarrassing, but I need help. I started a new job about 3 months ago, and I love it. One problem: my boss. I’m incredibly attracted to him. I don’t want to be. Each of us has been happily married for 10 years; nothing is going to happen. Luckily, I work remotely so I don’t see him often, but we sometimes have to take business trips (just him and me) and we spend a lot of time alone, at nice dinners, etc. All I want to do is buckle down and do a great job, but unfortunately I find myself mooning over him . Anyone have any suggestions for getting over a ridiculous boss crush?

    1. fposte*

      “Remotely” probably helps the crush. When you see him it’s in special datelike circumstances and he’s on best behavior. If you saw him in the office every day, there’d be a lot more farting and coffee breath than there is over a business dinner.

      Redirect. Moon over somebody nicely unattainable or something you can’t afford, like the vacation you want to take to Australia in ten years.

      1. Jax*

        Knowing now that you’re reacting to the “date-ness” of this is probably going to be your biggest help!

        Maybe pack lots of family pictures in your bag to put on your night stand and focus in on why you’re there. Avoid alcohol at dinner, and think up a reason to cut it short (maybe that you want to squeeze in a workout at the hotel gym?) to use when you know you need space.

        The worst thing you can do is dwell on it, because it’s only going to grow bigger and bigger in your mind.

    2. Celeste*

      Wow, this should be a post of its own.

      The trips and dinners sound dangerous for you, but maybe it’s a sign that you like trips and dinners and need to find a way to do that more often with your husband? I know attractions happen, but the mooning says to me that you’re pining for some excitement. Is there any reason why you can’t interest your husband in filling up your time in a more exciting way? If nothing else, the time you focus on him is time that you aren’t spending on thoughts of the boss.

      1. Anonymous Now*

        This is a very good suggestion. I think my husband and I have sunk into complacency — I love him dearly and can’t imagine life without him, but we don’t have anything exciting going on. “Pining for excitement” pretty much nailed it.

    3. Sarahnova*

      Do you really NEED to go to dinner with him alone? Because if you possibly can (and I find it hard to see how you can’t), I would cut that out and start having dinner in your room, or finding local friends you need to meet up with, or something. Or have the discussions over coffee and then split. Consuming alcohol with this guy whilst alone at night sounds like a bad call.

      I am a bit worried about the way you describe this, because it sounds like you’re afraid something might happen; if you knew that this was just idle projection and you’d never act on it, I might advise you to enjoy it and let it run its course. I’m not going to get all “something MUST be wrong in your marriage”, but, if you’re honest, ARE you a little bored in your marriage? Has it been too long since you were having intimate late-night conversations over wine with your spouse?

      1. Anonymous Now*

        I suppose I could try to bow out of the dinners if I had to. One time we were in the city where I grew up and we went to dinner with my family. It was actually kind of nice and not particularly weird.

        About my marriage…well, this is getting a little personal, but my husband and I are actually celibate. This probably is making the whole attraction-to-the-boss situatin a LOT worse. I’m wondering if I might actually need some therapy.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          If you think it would help, then go for it. Hubs doesn’t have to go with you, though it would be best if he did.

          If this decision about your marriage was led by one party, and both people aren’t in total agreement over it (which it sounds like you’re not), then it could be causing some real problems. Sex is usually a huge part of a marital or romantic relationship, and we all have needs. The problem is that your needs aren’t being met in your marriage, and that’s what you need to address, not the crush. The crush is only a symptom. If you’ve talked to your husband about this before and there is no resolution, then it’s okay to go alone.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Sex causes a release of chemicals in the brain that bring on a sense of bonding. Lacking that bonding feeling is going to make it easier to look around. Probably having a general plan on how to handle this is the best idea because it could happen again. Definitely not a waste of time to spend time considering and mulling this over.

    4. Charlotte*

      Someone else gave really great advice on a similar question a while back. Envision in your mind carrying through with the affair, and then follow that up with the very worst possible consequences of it…losing your job, your husband, his wife finding out, etc, etc. I haven’t actually used this technique myself, but I can imagine it working with me.

  16. kas*

    I have a coworker who uses a walker to get around, I’m not quite sure what’s wrong with her legs but it takes her quite some time to get around. The problem is, she insists on pushing her way in front of people and because of the width of some of the hallways, we end up stuck behind her and a 20 second journey turns into about a minute or more. Or if we get to the same doorway at the same time, she just pushes through. If I’m doing something that may cause me to walk slower, I let people pass but she always makes sure she goes first slowing everyone down. It’s gotten to the point where we all rush and almost run out when we see her headed in a direction we’re going. Is this horrible of me to be so annoyed with her because of this? I know she can’t help it but it would be nice of her to let someone go first for once.

    1. Rebecca*

      It must be incredibly hard for your coworker. One of my coworkers was struck by a nerve issue, and she uses a cane now, and is unsteady on her feet, and walks slowly. We have narrow hallways, and she always moves over so we can get by. I always thank her, and tell her no problem, I’m not in a hurry (even if I am).

      Have you said “excuse me, do you mind if I pass?” to get by? Maybe your coworker doesn’t feel this is an issue for other people?

    2. fposte*

      The thing is, if she’s using a walker there’s a good chance standing up is painful for her, so waiting would mean she hurts longer and possibly more. I don’t think you need to accede if she genuinely is claiming a priority she doesn’t have, but “pushing” makes it sound more like she is physically there with her walker already and just isn’t backing off for somebody else, which I can’t really blame her for.

      If there’s another hallway, rerouting is obviously a possible solution, and if there’s space enough, you can try the “let me just nip through” approach, but otherwise I’d say this doesn’t sound like something that’s happening that many times a day and that this is something you just let go of. (I get the general impression that you’re not that crazy about her anyway, which would make this more complicated, but unless you’re on synchronized bathroom schedules it’s maybe an additional 80 seconds or so in your day so I’m still voting for let it go.)

      1. ella*

        I second this. I was also thinking that if movement is difficult for her, maintaining forward momentum might be an infinitely preferable option to stopping and yielding.

        Also I want to point out that when you say “a 20-second journey turns into a minute or more”…that’s still only an extra 40 seconds. That’s nothing. I know it feels like forever when you’re in the middle of it, and I guess you could make the argument that it adds up, but however much it adds up for you, the cost and time is greater for her. Relax. Don’t be pushy. Unless you work in an emergency room, nothing bad will happen if it takes you an extra half-minute to get somewhere. Take the time to take some deep breaths and relax a bit.

        I had a coworker with Asperger’s whose speech patterns were inefficient and slow. Life for both of us got a lot easier when I realized that there’s nothing written anywhere that says that conversations will happen in X period of time, and just relaxed and let the conversation take the amount of time it needed to take for him. And guess what? We both still got all of our work done.

      2. kas*

        You are correct, she is extremely difficult to work with which makes matters worse. If I’m out and in a similar situation, if the person offers to let me go first I always tell them it’s okay and let them go but I guess it’s just her aggressiveness and the way she does it.

        I’m going to try harder to not let this bother me though.

    3. Mike C.*

      She’s the human version of those people that turn onto a road, cut you off in the process, and then go really slow.

      Yes, it’s rude as all hell. As much as is reasonable possible, you don’t stand in the way of others. That means you don’t block aisles in the grocery store, you keep right except to pass on the road, and so on.

      Sure, if she’s just naturally in front of you, you’re going to have to suck it up, but if she’s using her walker to shove people around (I see folks do with with strollers all the time in the mall actually), then that’s not cool.

      1. PJ*

        This. It’s all very cool to be nice to the lady in the walker, but it doesn’t give her an excuse to be an ass.

    4. Del*

      Keep in mind that if she is having difficulty walking, it’s very probable that the enormous majority of her focus is simply on the process of putting one foot in front of the other and keeping herself going, not on the people around her. On bad days, I’m the same way — I literally don’t have the attention to spare to see if there are people behind me, I’m too busy coordinating limbs and movements to try and keep as much weight off my bad foot as possible without turning the rest of my joints into mush. And as fposte pointed out, she is probably also looking to minimize her own time spent on her feet and enduring difficulty and probably pain. Someone for whom standing and walking are painful (hi, this is me) is not going to hang out and linger, and you really shouldn’t expect them to.

      If you really need to rush by her, you can try asking her to let you by — but honestly, I’m gonna say have a little compassion and a little patience.

      1. Emma*

        I would also add the emotional toll of *always* yielding to (or feeling you have to yield to) folks when you have some sort of physically-limiting disability. Imagine what it’s like to go about your day, at your speed, and to be regularly yielding or feeling implicit or explicit pressure to let others pass. It must make you feel othered in a terrible way, because you can’t go about your life at your own pace.

        In fact, she must feel the same way you feel about her slowness when she has to yield: her walking to-and-fro takes more time because she would have to stop for you!

        1. Del*

          I know you meant the “you” for the OP, but as a response to my comment — I don’t have to imagine, I actually do have a physical handicap! And it’s incredibly frustrating; I used to be the person powerwalking everywhere before my foot was injured, and even my best good-day pace nowadays drives me bananas. I just want to get where I’m going!

          1. Emma*

            Yea, I meant the OP/the editorial “you.” But that does sound very frustrating, I’m sorry.

  17. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I mentioned a few days ago that I had a fascinating (to me) exchange with a reader a couple of weeks ago about our mutual dislike of having our photo taken and how I handled it at my wedding (which is what she was seeking advice about). A couple of people asked me to share what I told her, so here it is (edited somewhat to remove stuff that was more specific to her situation):

    I was really unenthused about wedding photos when I got married last year. We ended up hiring a professional photographer because my fiance really loves photos, and he convinced me that a pro would take far more flattering photos than if we left it to friends and family … and he was actually right. Those photos turned out amazingly and to my enormous surprise, I ended up being really glad we hired her!

    As for other photos, there’s actually a growing trend (which I was delighted to find out about) of couples saying no photography at their weddings, aside from the photographer they hire. Search for “unplugged wedding” and you’ll find a lot on this.

    We sent everyone an email with details about the day a week or so beforehand, and we included this: “We’re asking that people not take photos during the ceremony. We’ve hired an amazing photographer who will be capturing the ceremony, and we will be glad to share her photos with you afterward! Aside from that, though, we’re trying to avoid having her pictures look like this:

    Also, enlist parents (and siblings if you have them) to enforce this for you. (Although they probably won’t need to if people read the email.)

    I also read that some people have a sign at the wedding saying something like “no photos please, we want to focus on enjoying the day with you.” But with a small group, that might not be needed — you can use word of mouth instead.

    As for avoiding having people think you’re crazy if you’re too controlling on this, you could say something like, “I’m not always comfortable having my photo taken, and I really want to be happy and comfortable during the day and focus on Fiance and our guests.” I think tha’ts a totally reasonable explanation, and even if people grumble, you two get to set the rules and they’ll respect that. (Unless your family is out of control, in which case you might need to be more assertive about it.)

    Oh, I have one more piece of advice. I didn’t want a wedding either, and it sounds like for similar reasons to you — I don’t like being the center of attention at that kind of thing (the whole walk down the aisle while everyone stares at you sounded ridiculous to me — I ended up doing the walk with my fiance and I liked that a lot better) and plus the whole thing feels intensely intimate and not like something that should have a bunch of witnesses. So we compromised on a small wedding (20 people).

    But … it was actually pretty awesome. What I didn’t really fully understand until it happened was that it’s not about Spectacle (which was kind of how it had felt beforehand), but rather about people close to you coming together and supporting you during a big moment in your life. I think because we kept it so small, it really just felt like being enveloped by family and people who love us and want the best for us, and there was a real feeling of my becoming part of his family and vice versa and everyone supporting us. So I don’t regret doing it and actually have fantastic memories of it. So maybe looking at it a little like that will help!

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      Our Rabbi insisted on no photos during the ceremony (besides the pro) which worked well for me. We put it in the program and the Rabbi invited pictures right when we got to the chuppah and then told everyone to put the cameras away. It worked and there were no awful social media photos.

      Of course, I loved my wedding and loved the pro photos (er most of them), but I’m really not photogenic so glad I didn’t need to worry about that from others.

    2. Lucy*

      Love this! For several complicated family reasons I’ve always wanted to elope- but so nice that this reader was able to find a compromise and have a wedding that was special and memorable, but also took her wishes into consideration.

      1. the gold digger*

        I wanted to elope, too, because I feared my drunken in-laws being jerks. They were, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, although I don’t know how you toast your son on his marriage without mentioning the bride’s name or even referring to the bride once, but yes, it can be done, and I don’t know why you would even come to the wedding of that “gold-digging Catholic who won’t even get a job” to your son if you hate her that much.

        My family was great and my husband’s two stepdaughters were fabulous, so that made up for his parents. And I got a lot of great material for my blog.

        1. Elkay*

          To a much lesser extent my in laws got an album of our wedding photos and I think I was only in one photo!

    3. Bryan*

      I love this idea!!!!

      Of course I already paid for a service that includes a wedding app so people can upload their pictures so I get theirs as well. I think for the ceremony though I will do the no pictures.

    4. Marie*

      We had a very small wedding. Unfortunately, using very close to this advice to ask people not to take photos, people still insisted to the point of throwing a fit. We then compromised as I was worried about appearing controlling, and said they could take photos if they kept them to themselves – guess what ended up all over social media and in family mailed letters? It really made me wish we had just eloped. I think this can be lumped in with apologizing is easier than asking permission, depending on what sort of people you’re dealing with.

    5. H. Vane*

      One major advantage of being married in a Mormon temple is that all cameras are strictly forbidden. Another is that there is rarely room for more than about 20-40 people. I hate pictures of me, I hate large groups, and I hate being the center of attention, so it was pretty much ideal for me. Oh, and the venue is free and gorgeous.

      Major disadvantage is you have to be a member in good standing to attend, so it really sucks when you’re a convert and your immediate family is not mormon. My sister in law’s mother had to wait outside while the actual ceremony happened. It was really sad.

      1. Stephanie*

        I had a friend in town. His boyfriend is LDS, but he’s not. They were here for a wedding of the boyfriend’s close friend (who was LDS). I get a call from him like “Uh, hey, I’m not allowed in the temple since I’m non-LDS, plus the all the awkwardness around the gay thing. Sooooo, you have like two hours to meet up?” It was sad.

    6. LBK*

      This is exactly what my sister did, for the same reason. It worked out really well for her and the only photos of her wedding are really great ones that she feels comfortable and confident sharing. The only cell phone picture of her on social media is a “Just Married!” selfie she took with her husband at the front of the room right before they processed out, which was a hilarious and awesome surprise.

      She also had a lot of the anti-wedding sentiment, but as she researched online and found all these unique wedding ideas and traditions, she realized that there’s only one piece of truly universal wedding advice: your wedding is only about you and your spouse, and you absolutely do not have to do anything that you don’t want to do. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise can shove it. You’re the one that has to live with the memories of your wedding for the rest of your life, and you want those to be happy memories untainted by the influences of outside parties.

  18. Kay*

    I had a student ask me a question that I had a hard time answering. She asked me if she could use a tablet in an interview to take notes. My initial reaction was a hearty “No” but I’m not so sure any more. It seems that this is going to become more commonplace but I can’t get over the thought that it doesn’t quite feel right. Maybe it’s because I feel like you really shouldn’t be taking that many notes during an interview to justify a tablet? Maybe it’s just a feeling that they are more distracting than a piece of paper. Does anyone else have strong feelings about this?

    1. Anonylicious*

      Ordinarily, I’d say no, but she might have a hard time writing by hand. If that’s the case, and notes are really necessary, then a tablet makes sense, provided she explains and clears it with the interviewer first. I have nerve damage in my dominant hand and in college I was sometimes the only person in a given class allowed to use a laptop because of it.

      That being said, I’ll usually default to not taking notes in a job interview if my hand’s acting up that day, because I’ve never really found the need for very many notes in interviews in my field.

    2. Jubilance*

      She may be using a program like Evernote or OneNote where she can keep notes from all her interviews. Evernote has extensions that transcribe handwriting, so it probably would be just as fast as if she was writing on a piece of paper.

      1. HM in Atlanta*

        Exactly – if she’s using it like Jubilance stated this, you’ll easily be able to tell (when I to this is looks like I’m writing with my stylus).

    3. fposte*

      My evil thought with a tablet is that I can’t see if she’s looking stuff up or not and it might give her an unfair advantage.

      1. businesslady*

        I can’t really imagine a scenario where a candidate could surreptitiously look something up without it being REALLY obvious, though. & if the interviewee is focused on their note-taking (whether on a tablet or via pen & paper) to the exclusion of the conversation at hand, that’s a problem no matter what the medium happens to be.

    4. Cajun2Core*

      I have always taken notes during an interview. Granted, not many but just jot a few things down. It helps in mentioning specific things in my thank you letter.

    5. Char*

      Personally I’m not a fan of note-taking. I’m not a recruiter or in HR… But imagining myself in the position, I would say no. I feel that having a tablet is like having your mobile with you. It’s like the interviee’s time and attention are not fully given to you.

      Then again, I also really dislike when interviews won’t put their phone away. For e.g. when it vibrated or got a notification etc. I know they are busy people, but I just sense unprofessionalism.

      1. Jubilance*

        So a candidate taking notes on the general information about the role/company means they aren’t devoting themselves fully to the interviewer?

        Think of the tablet as a piece of paper & then think if you’d think the same thing. Sure the candidate could be doodling instead of listening but that would be apparent in the interviewer. You shouldn’t punish the interviewee just because they’ve adopted technology.

        1. Char*

          I’m not punishing someone because s/he takes note, but I just prefer if someone could communicate with me as if they are having a conversation (that’s my opinion about interview). I haven’t really heard of taking note during interview, not sure if it’s more of an american concept? I’m German actually. Generally note taking would be a no-no. Even interviewing at a startup. But it doesn’t mean they will be “punished”. So it isn’t about they are using tablet or paper.

          1. LBK*

            This is a very American thing that also makes no sense to me, as an American. I’ve been criticized for not bringing a notepad to an interview to write on. I just don’t understand what I would need to write down, unless I was doing a truly huge number of interviews and wanted to make sure I could keep job details straight, but most of that comes in writing in the job description anyway.

            1. Mike C.*

              My last interview for my current job had lots of complicated, multi-part behavioral questions. It was helpful to me to write the question down, jot notes next to each part and then give a full and complete answer.

              There’s no way I could have down that without writing things down. But that’s not going to stop me from having a conversation with someone.

              1. LBK*

                Ah, that makes sense. I’ve never had to deal with anything beyond pretty standard interview questions with no more than 2 parts max.

          2. De (Germany)*

            I have always had paper in front of me while interviewing and my interviewers always took notes as well.

          3. Jubilance*

            So you’ve always memorized all the details about a job in the interview? Not everyone has as good of a memory. I’ve taken notes on things like the duties, the organizational structure, the benefits package, etc. I’ve also used my notepad to jot down key words when I’m asked a lengthy or multipart question & I want to make sure I answer it completely. And then of course it’s great to jot down contact information when you interview with several people throughout the day and they don’t have their business cards with them.

            Not taking notes seems so weird to me…but to each their own.

      2. lachevious*

        Note-taking (on both sides of the table) has been the norm in my experience. It’s interesting to see that it could come across as not paying attention.

        What about if the interviewee asks the interviewer before pulling out the notepad or tablet if it is okay if notes are taken while they speak? Ha – like how Michael asked for permission to use the restroom in the Godfather :-P

        1. Char*

          It’s a ‘new’ concept to me, but I’m glad to find out that it’s quite widely practiced. I think interviewer taking notes are common, but I haven’t heard much about interviewee taking notes. The only time I “took notes” during an interview was when I was given a take home assignment. So I’d to jot down the question. I didn’t have paper and the interview had to tear a page from her notebook for me. :/

          1. lachevious*

            Generally I usually only note things that weren’t provided in the job posting or interview screen.

            I do like to have my notes handy that I took if I was lucky enough to be able to research the company/people doing the interviewing – stuff like their practice areas, notable cases, etc. This is getting harder to do as companies seem to be leaving just the bare minimum of detail in their ads.

    6. Joey*

      I’ve had this happen a handful of times and just chalked it up to people embracing technology. As long as its not distracting its not a whole lot different than having a pen and paper tablet.0

      1. Char*

        Now I’m curious which industry are you all working in. I’m just wondering if certain industry tend to require interviewee to take notes. I’m in the marketing and advertising field.

  19. The Prez*

    So. Today is the first time I will write rejection letters, and I’m a little nervous.

    I’m the president of a student organization, and in a rare occurrence every member of the executive board is graduating or stepping down. That means we had to “hire” a whole new board. It’s been an enlightening process, and we know who we want in which position. But, like any job, there’s not room for everyone.

    All this is compounded because one of the people who applied but don’t exactly fit is in one of my classes. I still have to finish the semester with this person… I can handle it, it’s just awkward. (Made all the more worse because apparently she’s “never been rejected from anything.” First time for anything, I suppose.)

    1. fposte*

      It’s the worst when it’s to people you know. But remember, you’re the one who got what you want here, so be the person who’s generous with courtesy and smooths the way forward. I do individualized rejections for people we know, for one thing; I also recommend (and I think I got this from Alison) that you acknowledge her in person the first time you see her after that and say that you’re sorry it didn’t work out and you appreciate her willingness to give her time.

      1. The Prez*

        That’s actually great advice! I was sort of planning on cheering her up by reminding her that we have a ton of leadership opportunities that aren’t exclusively an executive board position.

    2. Parfait*

      Yup, that’s what school is for. I’d never been rejected for anything I’d ever wanted either at that point in my life.

      I’ve had lots and lots of practice at it now!

  20. Anon*

    I wonder if I could get people’s opinions on this, as I’m torn.

    I have been working, happily, in a fairly good position, for a large company (1000-5000 employees) for over 2 years now. I am due to be interviewed for a technical managerial position over the coming weeks.

    Coincidentally, I was contacted by a recruitment company I’d dealt with in the past who passed over a job for, what is effectively, a head of support role. This company is much smaller (< 50 employees).
    The role is interesting and very high profile for the company. The pay is also more substantial.

    What are peoples opinions on leaving a large, comfortable job for a smaller company?

    1. Cajun2Core*

      I would easily leave a large company for a smaller one. I would much prefer being a “small fish” in a big pond than even being a medium sized fish in a large pond.

      I have also found that in smaller companies there is less bureaucracy which I something I very much enjoy. I hate bureaucracy.

      Much depends upon the culture of the small company though. You can still have a small company that has bureaucracy and awful management and the such.

      The main thing I want to say is that with few exceptions, the chances of you getting laid off from either one a probably about the same. I worked for a very small company (see my post above) and I thought being a small company which I had worked at for years, I would be one of the last people they would lay off. I was one of the first people they laid-off. Any company regardless of the size, doesn’t care about the individuals. They will do what is best for the company as a whole.

      1. Anon*

        Thank you. That is one of my concerns, but I suppose the benefits outweigh the risks, as this would enable me to gain skills that I could use for self-employment, if need be!

        Appreciate the insight.

      2. Persephone Mulberry*

        “Much depends upon the culture of the small company though. You can still have a small company that has bureaucracy and awful management and the such.”

        Amen. And in my personal experience, small companies that think they need to act like big companies are some of the most dysfunctional of all. I would use the interview process to dig deeply into the company culture.

        1. Stephanie*

          Yup, this was OldJob. Also, small companies that are growing can have a lot of growing pains that can make the culture pretty unpleasant.

    2. lachevious*

      Is there a way you can try and find out from current or past employees their thoughts of the smaller company (e.g. culture, problems, benefits)?

      I left a small company for a big company, but did not do enough diligence and was pretty miserable.

      1. Anon*

        Unfortunately the company doesn’t have a huge online presence, with no negative or positive reviews on review sites.

        I met the MD and sales manager who were positive and excited, I believe genuinely, but it is a bit of a stab in the dark.

        1. lachevious*

          Shoot – that does make it harder. Well – if this is a move up and you feel okay with everyone you’ve met, no sense in pulling back till (if) you get any warning signs.

          My past experiences have left me pretty pessimistic, unfortunately. Hopefully this turns out well for you, either way!

    3. EA*

      (I’m assuming, from your description, that you’re in an IT-related field)

      Keep in mind that with a large company, they will generally have several different IT people, or even teams, with more specialized responsibilities. At a smaller company, you may end up with a much smaller IT organization, meaning that you’d have to wear a lot of different hats, and you may be called upon to use a lot more skills, which you may or may not have developed.

      Yes, this can make for more variety, but if you’ve been in Database Design for your entire career, and now suddenly you’re the “IT person”, and you have to to troubleshoot the VPN, fix the printer, and setup the mailserver and implement Active Directory.

      All of these are “IT” skills, but just because you’re good at Database Design, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you know the first thing about how to implement AD.

      Just something to consider.

  21. Nicole*

    Has anybody had any success getting a job lately with little experience? I currently am close to finishing a PhD in History (ABD and expect to defend late summer/early fall). I had an internship that lasted from 2003-2005 and all my other experience since then is either being a graduate assistant or adjuncting. I recently followed my fiance for his job and have been applying to a variety of professional positions mostly at universities but have not heard back from any. I’m wondering if it’s because of my work history or if they think I’ll abandon the job for a teaching job (in my cover letters I try and play up that I won’t leave for a teaching job and express my interest for the particular position). I would just hoping for inspiration.

    1. StaminaTea*

      I’m sorry that you’re going through this! I work at a university and am close to finishing a second masters. I’ve applied to tons of academic and non-academic jobs, and have heard back from zero. The academic job market is just really tight. You’d have best luck getting adjunct teaching jobs at unis, but those suck.

      You might also leave off the phd if you can and see if it helps (sorry).

      1. Nicole*

        I’ve considered leaving off the PhD but then with it I have to leave off my time as a graduate assistant and create a hole in my experience. I have a retail job right now so I’m looking for something full-time as the retails pays more than adjuncting.

    2. LAI*

      I work in higher ed administration and there is definitely a suspicion of applicants who have a PhD (or almost). The first problem is that you’ve spent the last 6-7 years preparing for a career that is not higher ed administration which makes it seem like you’re now settling for something that you don’t really want. It’s not enough to say “I promise I won’t leave for a teaching job”. Instead, you need to convey a deep understanding of what the job entails and genuine passion for doing it – and yes, there are people who are passionate about being good administrators.

      The second problem is that having a PhD doesn’t necessarily make you qualified for administrative work; lots of professors are brilliant in their field but don’t know how to use the copy machine. So you’re likely to lose out to someone who has a proven history of success doing administrative work even if they just have a bachelor’s degree.

      My advice is to seek jobs that are closely related to the field you studied, or that involve a lot of work with academics. For example, you might have more luck with a position in a historical research group or the Academic Senate – then it’s not quite so irrelevant that you have a PhD.

  22. Just Me*

    I haven’t posted in an open thread before, but I have a question! A recruiter recently contacted me for a position that I am a very good fit for. I’m really excited about the possibility, but it would require an out of state move. I’m considering all aspects of accepting the position if it is offered (I think my chances are pretty good). The only thing I am unsure of is relocation expenses. This is not an executive position, but I have some unique experience they won’t find locally.

    How likely is it that relocation help will be included in an offer? Does anyone have suggestions on negotiating for relocation assistance if it isn’t offered initially? I already know the salary is in the range of what I’m looking for, but relocation assistance would make this a no-brainer.

    1. Kara Ayako*

      This is completely company-dependent. My company often covers relocation expenses for anyone they hire for one step up from entry level.

      When I moved, the company paid for packers/movers, my airfare (plus a house-hunting trip in advance), my car to be sent across the country, and a hotel room for a week while my stuff was on its way. In addition, they gave me $5k to cover any additional moving expenses I may have (breaking my lease, etc.).

      I don’t think this is the norm (it sounded QUITE generous to me), but it never hurts to ask. If they can’t find the experience locally, they will likely be willing to at least talk about a relocation package if they don’t have a set package they offer candidates.

      1. Just Me*

        Thank you for this response! My expectations are WAY lower than what you received, but it’s good to hear what other’s have experienced. I’d just like a bit of help to make things easier when moving forward.

    2. Bryan*

      I for my entry level position received it but it really depends on the company. See if they have an HR book on their website. Also it sounds like they initiated contact so it’s totally appropriate to bring it up.

  23. NylaW*

    My work bff just had her last day. She’d been with us for 12 years. Many tears and laughs and hugs were had, but today is the first day with her not here and it’s a lot harder than we all thought it would be.

    1. Sadsack*

      I am sorry for you! I had a work bff a few years ago who left the company and it was a difficult adjustment. I still miss her being around four years later. It will get easier as the days go by though.

  24. Karen*

    I have a young, ambitious Ivy-league educated member of my team. She has come up quickly in her role and as our company grows, she would be the one person I would slate for our most important client base. Here’s the rub: she uses the word “aks” instead ask. That’s it. There are no other grammar or pronunciation errors, but I hesitate as the clients with whom we’ll work will most likely notice this as I do.
    I don’t want to be insensitive or come across as, dare I say, racist. I’d appreciate any advice on whether I should and if so, how to address?

    1. matcha123*

      I’ll preface my reply by saying that my degree was focused on language and linguistics.

      From a linguistics point of view, no language or dialect is superior to another. They carry out the functions that are needed for native speakers of that language. Using “aks” rather than your preferred dialect is not wrong.

      If you feel that this pronunciation is something that will hold her back, then you are free to bring it up. But, it’s also possible that she is aware that her dialect isn’t considered “standard” and prefers to use her own dialect. If that’s the case, and you are highly satisfied with her work, why not focus on her great work rather than her pronunciation of a word?
      And if a client brings it up, why not show your support for your colleague by bringing attention back to her work rather than something insignificant?

      1. BCW*

        Hmm, I’m going to disagree. I’m from the south side of Chicago. I have A LOT of family members who use aks. Sorry, its not a dialect, its mispronunciation of a word. Its like if I’m a teacher and I say “foilage” instead of foliage, or “nulcear” instead of nuclear. Ya’ll as opposed to you all is a dialect thing. She is mispronouncing a word, and I think it needs to be brought up. If in my job I’m constantly mispronouncing something, I’d expect my manager to tell me, not just say “well he’s black and thats how they talk”. No, we need to hold everyone to the same standard.

          1. BCW*

            I get what you are saying. I’m referring to a professional setting. At this point in time, there is a stigma attached to it. But I’m guessing this woman isn’t using it in the same way Chaucer did. Its vernacular that is commonly accepted in the black community. However, that doesn’t mean it has any place in an office setting. I talk to my friends differently than I talk at work. This is no different

        1. matcha123*

          If that’s a “mispronunciation of a word,” what do you say to the British who say “vi-ta-mins” rather than the American “vai-ta-mens?”

          People assume that there is a “right” and “wrong” way to speak because of something a misguided parent or teacher taught them, but they would be wrong.
          There is a standard dialect that is widely used throughout America and that dialect is no more right than any other English dialect. Of course there can, unfortunately, be problems when speaking a dialect that is stigmatized.

          1. Sadsack*

            Aks instead of ask almost seems dyslexic, even though it is in speech and not writing, as opposed to saying vi-ta instead of vai-ta.

          2. BCW*

            In that example, its still phonetically correct, just accented different. Aks is completely ignoring the spelling and just moving letters around. Very different. There are right and wrong pronunciations of things. Period.

            1. Xay*

              Really? How do you pronounce aluminum?

              There are contextually acceptable and unacceptable ways to pronounce most words, not right and wrong way to pronounce everything.

              1. BCW*

                Again aluminum has different pronunciations, but all of them that I heard still make sense based on the spelling. Do you thing saying “foilage” is ok?

                1. Judy*

                  I was going to respond about the extra i in the pronunciation. But a quick google search says that the British countries spell the word


                  while the US spells it


                  So it’s not actually about pronunciation, it’s about spelling differences in this case.

                2. Alicia*

                  It might have been my crazy-as-a-bat inorganic chemistry prof in undergrad telling us a lark, but …

                  The reason why North America says “aluminum” vs. “aluminium” is because when the first company to produce aluminum in North America (Alcoa) printed their stationary/letterhead, they mis-typed it. They couldn’t afford to reprint it, and so two different spellings and pronunciations exist.

        2. Xay*

          She may not even hear it as wrong. I had to consciously train myself to say “ask” instead of “aks” because I grew up hearing “aks” from just about everyone – teachers, professionals, etc – in the town where I was raised. When we moved, I didn’t even hear “aks” as being different from “ask” – someone pointed it out to me and I had to practice saying ask and remind myself to say ask before my diction changed.

      2. Mints*

        AAVE is definitely definitely a dialect. I understand that the professional world doesn’t use that dialect, but I don’t understand the people arguing linguistics.
        If OP is her manager, pointing out standard pronunciation seems useful (but I’d encourage her to use “standard” not “right/wrong”)

    2. fposte*

      Are you her supervisor and do you give her feedback? I’d mention it in a low-key way (I’ve mentioned uptalk tendencies in similar situations, for instance) as a “code” thing–you can relate it back to the “y’all” discussion here if you want to contextualize it. I wouldn’t use talk about it as a duty or a performance thing that I expect to see more of–it’s an FYI that she can decide whether to take action about or not, not a correction.

    3. HM in Atlanta*

      Please bring it up as fposte says! I’ve been told more times than I’d like to admit, that perception is reality. The good feedback made me a better employee and manager.

      I had someone on my team that says “whores-dee-orvs” when she’s talking about hors d’oeuvres. Executives started asking for her not to be allowed to attend events that clients would attend. They were embarrassed for her to represent the company. She thought it was funny to pronounce it that way. I got the happy task of mentioning it to her.

      1. ClaireS*

        Seconded. You will do her a favour by making her aware of it. It’s something that can be fixed* and it will remove a roadblock (no matter how small) on her road to success. Be kind and low key but do bring it up. If I were in her shoes, I’d want to know.

        *I recognize it may be hard to fix or not fixable at all (if it’s a speech impediment) but I think in this case, it’s likely enough that it can be fixed that it warrants comment

    4. ella*

      I wouldn’t bring it up. She’s smart, she’s capable, she’s educated, and she’s performing her job well. You’ve noticed how she says ‘ask,’ and probably her clients will too. But, presumably, they’ll also notice (as you have) that she’s smart, performing her job well, and ambitious. (Also, you say she’s young; it may be a pronunciation that disappears on its own as she gets more experience and age anyway.)

      Sometimes (and I have no idea if this is true with you, I’m just throwing it out there for people to reflect on) I feel like when people say they want “workplace diversity,” they mean that they want their workplace to LOOK diverse in company photos, but internally, they want everyone to act the same (and that standard can often be summarized as “middle class white behavior”). And that’s not how diversity works. Diversity requires flexibility and adaptability on both ends, and I feel like accepting alternative pronunciations of words like “ask” in an otherwise high-performing individual is among one of the smallest things that you could expect the workplace and your clients to accommodate.

      I mean, think of how she’ll hear this on her end, no matter how diplomatically you say it: “I busted my butt through high school and college, and proved myself to get this job, and I’m one of the best new employees they have, and they’re telling me that the thing that’s holding me back is how I say this one word?”

      1. Joey*

        That’s ideal in a perfect world, but you can’t tell me it won’t reflect well on her in reality.

        1. ella*

          Well there’s only one way to make ideals become reality, and that’s to put them into practice. Nobody ever said it was easy.

      2. BCW*

        Completely disagree. If you were in a black owned law firm or other professional setting, and you couldn’t properly pronounce ask, library, or a number of other words, I’d argue that it would still look bad for you. I’m assuming this woman the OP is mentioning is black, based on not wanting to sound racist. To me you have to ask yourself, if this was a white person pronouncing something wrong, would you comment or no? If not, then I agree, don’t say anything. However, the fact that she is black should have no bearing on correcting her improper speech.

        1. ella*

          Maybe it’s because I’ve worked in customer service for a long time, and currently work in a library–and not least because I just left a library that was in a neighborhood with a working class/less educated/lots of immigrants/not technically savvy patrons, and because I’m from the South so my family has its own way of talking and putting things, and because I have the sort of mouth that will occasionally misplace entire words in sentences, especially if I’m talking fast, and because my sister has a fairly severe speech impediment, but I’m generally a big fan of the idea that people talk how they talk, and if they can get their meaning across and you can understand it, that’s the important thing. The patrons at my library can be extremely sensitive to feeling like the staff are treating them like idiots, but for us to be able to teach them anything (we’re the de facto “I need to fill out an internet job application please help me” career counseling center in the neighborhood), they need to know that we don’t think they’re dumb. So that’s where I come from. To me, it’s not a mispronunciation, it’s just how she talks (a mispronounciation would be something like phonetically pronouncing “subtle,” which I probably would correct). Similarly, I might tell a white Southern coworker that discussing his family’s annual gator hunt might not be the best topic of office conversation, but I probably wouldn’t tell him to stop “fixin’ to” do things. But that’s me, I understand there’s both a diversity of opinion and a diversity of acceptable office culture.

          Now, if the coworker in question was job searching, my answer might be different. Because that’s about impressing people and putting across a professional exterior, and for whatever reason in this country, there are a lot of accents that don’t get put under the heading of “professional.” But she’s not. She’s already on the job and performing well, so I think that’s the important thing to focus on, not on how she says a single word.

      3. Tinker*

        Wow, that’s excellently put!

        There’s a thing that… well, I understand it in a sense, but try to avoid having it in my life whenever possible, where “professional” starts kind of devolving into a bunch of increasingly petty aesthetic judgments. And regarding this I’m a bit torn.

        Like, to take an example that came up on another site, okay, if having a glittery cover on your cell phone might have a negative impact on your high-powered law career, obviously, replacing your cell phone cover is a good idea. Because they are cheap, and law degrees are expensive. On the other hand, this apparently puts you in a place where you end up debating at great length “is this nail polish professional”, “is this water bottle professional”, “is this band-aid professional”, “is it professional to trip on the sidewalk and split your lip in the first place”. And aside from the horrible ninnying feel I get from that sort of thing, it’s also kind of disturbing in that I think “professional” ought to represent something higher than the color of one’s Post-It notes or whatever.

        And that’s leaving aside entirely the matter that these sort of aesthetic values add an extra degree of difficulty for people of some backgrounds but not others, as far as integrating into the workplace… and it always seems to be more or less the same folks who end up on the pointy end.

      4. Jess*

        Agreed. She’s an Ivy League graduate, for Pete’s sake, she knows her pronunciation of the word isn’t standard but she’s choosing to pronounce it that way anyway. I’m guessing it’s a matter of cultural pride to her and that she’s aware that people might judge her for it and has decided to risk that. Good for her.

        For what it’s worth, I thought asking people to stop saying y’all also reveals some nasty regional prejudice.

      5. Malissa*

        But one thing can derail a career. Look at Ugly Betty. Here’s this girl with a fun sense of style that is very uniquely her own. But her career stalled because she didn’t take the fashion of the clients of her company seriously. In fact few people in her work place took her seriously. Then she started dressing up and paying attention to trend and her career started taking off.
        Of course they cancelled the show shortly after that, so bad for TV but a good lesson in perception.

    5. Anon for this one*

      I would not bring this up at all. It may hold her back or make others perceive her differently than they should, but if you raise it (no matter how helpful and kind you are), you are in real danger of being labeled as insensitive or racist, like you said. You could even get fired.

      She’s a smart woman and probably realizes she says it. Either she has decided that is okay with her, or she is unable to pronounce it a different way (many people struggle with certain letter combinations). I would leave this one alone.

      1. Arjay*

        I know some letter combinations can be difficult to pronounce, but is “ask” one of them? I’ve never heard anyone, among people who say “aks”, mispronounce task as taks or mask as maks. Just curious…

        1. OhNo*

          The fact that the word leads with a vowel sound makes it a little harder to pronounce than similar words that lead with a consonant. I don’t know why exactly that would be true, but that’s what I was told by my speech therapist, so I’m assuming that it is.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          There are a couple ordinary words that I cannot pronounce if my life depended on it. I avoid those words, because I cannot deal with the puzzled look on people’s faces. It’s humbling. (I don’t know how to describe this but it is like my tongue just won’t let me get the words out properly.)

          My guess would be that this lady has gotten this far with using aks, let it go. If she wants to fix it she will.

    6. TotesMaGoats*

      My sympathies on having to have this conversation but you HAVE TO HAVE IT. It may not be immediately visible to her that this will hold her back and it might not from a money/position stand point but it will from a reputation standpoint.

      I have the same problem with people who say “pacific” for “specific”. Drives me up the wall. No, you aren’t “ax-ing” me a question, you need to ask me a question. I’ve worked very hard to drop my “southern-isms” and moderate my accent.

      1. Sadsack*

        I used to work with an engineer who used the word pacific for specific all the time. He was extremely smart , but I giggled inside every time he said pacific.

      2. Emma*

        My aunt grew up in the Bronx. She has a slight old school Bronx accent and she axes questions, but it hasn’t stopped her career as a neuro rehab or school nurse.

        1. TotesMaGoats*

          This is just my personal opinion. I’m glad you aunt hasn’t faced any issues from her accent. I’ll freely admit that it’s something I feel very strongly about.

          1. Emma*

            I totally get your stance, here. But like others have said, it’s in the context of an otherwise professional, hardworking woman. Who can begrudge her her ax? ;)

            On the other hand, I worked with a person who regularly used a multitude of incorrect words to described things – a la pacific/specific – and it grated me! Especially when they said things incorrectly in a medical context (I don’t mean mispronouncing words, like coccidiomycosis, which is a tongue twister)…they just used the wrong words (I won’t use the real example, because it’d give me away, but let’s just say they’d say things like archery instead of artery).

            It was part that/part slacker-attitude that permeated that office/part their anti-vaccination sentiments in a job where vaccination prophylaxis was one way we promoted community health.

    7. Joey*

      Absolutely address it. There are plenty of people that mispronounce words that reflect negatively on them who are not black. Libary and sangwich come to mind. The only way I wouldn’t be so particular is if its due to an accent or that she’s still learning English.

      1. BCW*

        Libary is a perfect example. You aren’t just saying something based on a national or regional dialect. Its specifically (not pacifically) ignoring how the word is spelled.

          1. Kelly L.*

            And I don’t know anyone who says “eye-run” for iron. Everybody I know says iern.

    8. AndersonDarling*

      I have worked with people who say “can I ax you something,” and it would catch me off guard, but each person was very professional. Their overall impression overshadowed their pronunciation and it didn’t bother me.

    9. BCW*

      Another thing. Why should a white person feel racist for correcting a black person who is pronouncing something wrong? When I taught, I taught mostly Mexican students. I wouldn’t have felt racist for correcting their speech. If I managed a white person, I would feel bad either. This is another example of being so PC that you can’t even have a normal conversation.

      1. ella*

        Because it reinforces or implies a standard wherein the only acceptable code of behavior or speech is to act like a white person. (And because the history of white people policing the behavior of black people is…troubled, to say the least.)

        1. BCW*

          I see your point, but if you are correcting a mispronunciation, especially in a professional setting, to me thats a bit different. I do think that this “fear” is a problem in itself. If you feel you can’t give the same feedback to a black person that you would give a white person, that is not good.

          1. ella*

            As a white person, I wouldn’t say I have fear of correcting black people, but I do admit I do some extra double checking of myself before I correct or criticize a black person. For example, the library I work in has a large number of kids who come in, of all races, all of whom like to horse around to some degree. Because I know that black kids, particularly black boys, are more likely to be seen as thugs or disciplined harshly for committing the same offenses as white kids (and not just in the courts, but in schools and such), I usually check with myself and imagine white kids committing the exact same behavior, and see what my reaction would be then, before I go over and tell them to stop. I don’t do this because I’m afraid of making them angry, I do it because I know racist behaviors can be tiny and sneaky and I may not even realize I’m doing them. In situations i find myself in, it tends not to be about applying the same rules, it tends to be about applying the same leniency.

            1. Mints*

              Applying the same leniency is great framing; I’ve never heard that before!

              I see this alot when young men of color complain about police handcuffing them and frisking and searching their cars during traffic stops, and people respond like “well they have the right to search you” and the police sure do, but you’re much more likely to be treated better if you’re white

              And unconscious bias comes into play (using your example) when both young black boys and young white boys deserve to be reprimanded, but it isn’t until you measure the aggregate when you see the differences

              Okay that was really tangential, I just saw that phrase and so many stories of “pulled over for driving while black” got to me

        2. BCW*

          Furthermore, it is a problem to say that using proper grammar is acting like a white person. I’m black, from a middle class suburb, and use proper english. I don’t think that means I’m acting like a white person. It means I’m speaking properly.

          1. ella*

            I hear you. When you put it like that, I agree. And I think Bill Cosby would agree with you (come to think of it, are you Bill Cosby’s Wife? ;) ). And I think that’s a perfectly valid critique coming from a member of a community. But it’s more troubling coming from outside (ie, from me) because I think it’s just always hard to hear when an outsider critiques anything about your life, whether they’re right or not (and they’re often not). A black kid might accept feedback on his grammar and diction from you; he probably wouldn’t accept it from me.

            So my thing is trying to keep myself out of the headspace of “why is so and so acting like that” and judging their actions as proper or improper, or telling them to change. I think it’s more helpful for me to think about how I can open spaces up and be welcoming. That stance works better for me, and hopefully better for the people I interact with.

            Reading this back I feel like I’m inflating my self-importance to a ridiculous degree, which isn’t my intention at all, but I don’t really know how to change it so it doesn’t read that way.

            1. BCW*

              I completely get what you are saying, and to a point I agree. I think me as a black man correcting this stuff to black kids (especially if the are from a poor area) would come off very different from white person giving that same critique. I think its stupid though. I mean if the content is the same (and correct in the case of pronunciation) people need to be able to accept this stuff. I’d even go as far as to say it minorities tend to take stuff like this better coming from other minorities than from white people. Thing is, I don’t think that should stop someone from giving that critique, especially in a professional environment.

              1. Stephanie*

                When the critique’s coming from a difference race (especially from a white person), there’s a whole lot of historical baggage tied up in that. It takes a lot of skill and finesse to offer a (valid) criticism without sounding condescending and judgmental.

                Reason I think a pronunciation correction would come across better from one minority to another is because it’d be seen more as “Hey, I’m just trying to help you out” versus “Hey, I’m indirectly criticizing your background.”

                1. BCW*

                  I agree. I guess I just think that comes more from the black person’s feelings than the white person’s (or whatever race) intentions. In my opinion, that thinking is problematic. If your automatic assumption is that people are criticizing your background, thats not a good way to go through life. Maybe its because I grew up in a fairly diverse environment, but when my white teachers, or whoever, corrected me, I didn’t think it was a racial thing. Just that I was wrong. Now it definitely helped that my mom and grandmother made sure I was speaking correctly, which I get some people don’t have. But I think we, as black people, need to move on past being so sensitive about everything white people do.

    10. OhNo*

      Unless you are also going to give her resources and time to participate in speech therapy, don’t bring it up. While you may assume that it is simply a mispronunciation issue, there is every possibility that it is a sign or remnant of a speech impediment.

      I went to school with someone with a lisp (s -> th), and he was taught by the speech therapist to deliberately use “ax” instead of “ask” because he had such trouble with the sibilant in that word.

      I’m speaking myself as someone who had (has) a speech impediment (r -> w). Getting called out on it is completely humiliating, because you can’t help it and often don’t realize that you’re doing it. Unless you are ABSOLUTELY, 100% POSITIVE that it is not a speech impediment issue or the remnant of one, don’t risk it.

    11. Anoners*

      Okay, I have to say I’ve never heard of “aks” before. Is it an english word? Or is it a word that’s more common within an ethnic group that has evolved over time? My only concern would be that (as the OP said) it would come accross to clients as a spelling error. If I was communicating with somoeone for a service, and they used aks, I would assume they don’t have an attention to detail (now that I know this, I obviously wouldn’t think that, but I think maybe most people weren’t aware?)

    12. Rev.*

      “…young, ambitious Ivy-league educated member of my team…”

      Exactly how many of those do y’all have up yonder?

  25. Brett*

    Yesterday ended up being crazy. Woke up to an emergency situation at 5 am and started working from home within about 5 minutes. Then worked my normal work day while dealing with the emergency situation throughout the day. Then finally wrapped up everything for the emergency at 10 pm last night.
    Got none of my normal work done for the week, so I am back at work today working again.

    The cool part: I had tons of public contact running our agency’s social media and received literally dozens of thank yous to me and our agency (and we went past 3000 followers). I was even asked by the mods of the regional subreddit to do an Ask Me Anything about my job. Being acknowledged by the public like that for my contributions as a government worker really made the day easier.

  26. lachevious*

    Good morning, everyone!

    I have been reading this blog for several years now, and have found it to be an incredible resource. Thank you, Alison (and all of the excellent commentators, for all of the time, thought, and energy you give to keep this awesome blog going strong!

    My question is rather odd and I hope that someone more experienced than I can weigh in:

    I have worked in the legal field for roughly seven years. Three and a half years ago I accepted a position in a large for-profit corporation which came with a title “downgrade” but a hefty raise in salary. I took the position hoping that eventually I would be promoted into a position more in line with what I thought my career goals were at the time. That never happened, instead my salary was increased again as I took on more responsibilities.

    I left that job six months ago, and began working at a large law firm as a legal secretary, which meant yet another title downgrade and an 11% cut in pay. Their reasoning for the reduced pay was that I was making way over the current market rate in our area for my level of experience (this may be accurate, but it stung quite a bit to hear).

    Now I feel that I am stuck. It has only been six months, so I know I will be here quite a while before I can move on again, but, I am terrified that I will not be able to find another job in this area that pays the same or, ideally, at least 6% more than what I am currently earning. I am currently in college, part-time, hoping that by adding some solid education credentials I can at least justify my salary expectations to prospective employers.

    Has anyone experienced anything like this in their careers? Should I just get over the feeling of being overpaid? It is really causing some self-esteem issues. Thank you!

    1. lachevious*

      I should add that both jobs are located in the same city – so it isn’t (in my opinion) an issue of different pay rates for different markets – just an issue of what someone can be worth to one company versus what they are worth to another one.

    2. Sharm*

      Sort of… It’s still something I struggle with, so I don’t know how I can help, but I sympathize.

      My story is, I was hired at a large non-profit for a standard entry-level salary. I was a stellar employee my first year (my manager quit just days after I started and I had to run her projects on my own, literally right out of college), and I got a hefty raise at my review — 25%, which I know now is unheard of, but just seemed normal to me.

      Through a course of events, I ended up leaving that job for a corporate job that was 33% higher. I ended up haaaaaaaaaating it, but my old department got restructured, and I was hired back for a higher level position, though at a very moderate raise of $1,000.

      Fast forward a year, and I got promoted again, and again got about a $10,000 raise.

      In the end, I was making so much more money than I thought I deserved. I didn’t think I was that good (despite the promotions), and to this day, don’t understand how I essentially doubled my salary in a span of 5 years. It gave me so much anxiety. I was worried I’d have to make huge decisions that I wasn’t prepared for and that I’d have to do all kinds of things I didn’t know to justify my pay.

      The hard part for me now has been moving to a place where the pay is notoriously low. My salary now is only slightly higher than what I was being paid one year out of college. To make the same amount of money I did before I moved, I’d have to have several graduate degrees and probably another decade of experience. That stings to me, because I simply can’t do it. I also really worry I’ve screwed myself for whenever I move back to an area of higher pay in that I’ll always be low-balled. The move was wonderful for personal reasons, but career-wise, I am so worried I’ve shot myself in the foot.

      Anyway, I totally feel your pain. Of course, now that I’m paid so much less, I wouldn’t mind the overpaid-anxiety once again, ha! Ah well.

      1. lachevious*

        “In the end, I was making so much more money than I thought I deserved. I didn’t think I was that good (despite the promotions), and to this day, don’t understand how I essentially doubled my salary in a span of 5 years.”

        YES this is how I am feeling right now! I have spent my life underselling my achievements and skills and only focusing on things I could have done better (trying to stop that) – so when I hear stuff like this I still just automatically agree. Cue head-down/hung-dog expression. Sheesh.

        I hoped I would (by now) get to a point where I feel more confident in my abilities – now I worry that I never will. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

        1. Sharm*

          Of course! I hope we both find our self-confidence. After all, we are always our own worst critics, right? People always tell me that others have seen potential in me I don’t see myself. I will say that I try to push myself to be more outwardly confident at work now — using more authoritative language, offering ideas. It will be something I constantly need to work at. I wish I could just figure it out and be done with it, but I suppose it won’t be so easy! :-)

  27. Stephanie*

    Suggestions on how to (nicely) tell your parents to back off during a job search? They’re financially supporting me while I job search, so I feel like I shouldn’t completely shut them off. There’s just a lot of well-meaning, but horrible advice (neither’s job hunted in the last five years).

    Doesn’t help that every time there’s a job rejection (from something that lead to an interview), their anxiety level increases exponentially. This turns into “I don’t understand. What’d you do? Did you say something wrong? Is your old job giving you a bad reference?” or “Well, what’s your plan? Are you just going to keep applying and wait around for someone to give you a job?”

    It’s driving me batty.

    1. Sunflower*

      When I was living at home and job searching, my parents offered to pay for someone to write my resume and do interview coaching. I know a lot of job coaches are phony and unhelpful but maybe there is some sort of mock interview session you can sign up for that your rents might be willing to foot the bill for?

      Or there is always lying and saying ‘Well the feedback they gave me said they liked me but someone else was just more qualified’- It’s not a total lie since most rejection emails say that..

      1. Sunflower*

        Also want to add to ask them what they suggest doing? Sometimes parents just want to hear that they’re being heard. Looking back on my job search, as much as I thought my parents were mad at me, I think they were more worried. My parents didn’t go to college and it was very important to them that I go to college and get a good job. My older sister is an accountant and did an internship that turned into a job so I think my parents were really worried that I was going to be living on their couch forever

    2. Celeste*

      They are worried is all, and this is how it comes out. Maybe you could show them a few AAM columns about bad advice that no longer applies. They might believe it coming from an expert, know what I mean? Then you can tell them you have gleaned all kinds of great stuff from the site, and you are following it but it just takes time. Everybody goes through this now, but when you get that offer it’s all going to be worth it.

      Good luck!

    3. Jubilance*

      Can you show them some of the advice from AAM about how job searches work in 2014? I get their anxious for you to get a job & want to help you, but it’s also a really hard economic environment, maybe reminding them of that will help?

    4. Too excited*

      First thing would be to limit how much information you give them. My parents support me as well but even though, I’ve mostly done internships, I typically don’t tell my parents much about job prospects until I have an offer. I’m job searching now too and same applies.

      1. O*

        Agreed, I’d just try to say as little as possible and leave out specifics, they don’t need to know about every job you’ve applied to. Just recognizing that their advice is out of date should help, also mine got a little better after I accidentally left my resume out, and they saw what a good job I’d done on it, it helped shifted the thinking from it must be something your doing, to just a general lack of experience and small opportunities for entry level work for what I wanted to do.

      2. Ruffingit*

        Completely agree. It’s totally OK to be vague and shut them out of details. When they ask what you’re doing with job hunting, you can just say “I’m applying to jobs” and leave it at that. No details of any kind, ever. And when you get an interview, don’t tell them. Just leave them out as much as possible. They will ask for details. Don’t give them. “The search continues” is enough.

    5. lachevious*

      I feel your pain! My family is the same way – and so is my best friend. Show them that article from the Onion that was linked here a few days ago!

      There is really no way to stop the bad advice, all you can do is try to limit what they know about your current job search and just (internally, or outwardly if they have a sense of humor) laugh at the whole crazy mess.

    6. Bryan*

      It depends on the relationship you have with your parents. During my last job search I told them I would keep them updated but I would prefer if they did not ask questions as it made an already stressful time worse. Also that while I appreciated their advice if I had any questions I would come to them.

    7. BB*

      I don’t know what your situation is but my parents backed off a bit when I started waitressing and had a little bit of income. I was able to buy a car and start paying back my loans and I think as long as I was able to cover those things, they were fine with me living there and not having a ‘real’ job.

    8. Laura*

      My parents are the same, right down to the comments after I get a rejection, which of course makes me feel like a total loser and probably damages my job search by removing any confidence in myself I may have had.

      I’ve stopped telling them when I get rejections, and I wish I could tell them nothing, but every time they come home they interrogate me on various aspects of my job search – I’ve told them before it makes me feel bad when they do that, but they still do it, so I either lie, or avoid them forever, which is hard when I live with them.

      I feel your pain!

    9. Stephanie*

      Not helping is when my mom gets in these maudlin, wistful modes if I mention a friend’s good news.

      Me: “Oh, Wakeen just bought a condo. He’s really excited about the area.”
      Mom: “Oh honey, I just want you to move on with your life and away from Indeed.”

      It’s enough to make me want to down an Olivia Pope-sized glass of wine. (Scandal fans, anyone?)

      1. Clerica D. McClerkykins*

        Ugh, you just reminded me of something so icky. I only lived with my father and his wife for a few months while job hunting, but she packed a whole lot of Nope into that time. There was the usual “Have you tried going on-line?” (you knew she was hyphenating it in her mind) and “The pavement, pound it you must” but also “You’re a beautiful girl. You can do anything you set your mind to.”

        Scusi? I’m not beautiful. And if I were, that almost sounded…like I could do anything I set my mind to by pulling off my top for hiring managers or something. When that “My coworker is lucky she’s pretty” post went up that’s what I thought of lol.

    10. Audiophile*

      I feel your pain, Stephanie. I’m living at home as well, have been since graduation (actually a little before that because living on campus was a disaster). From, I’d say about 3 months before graduation, my mom started asking about my job search and what I was going to do. Then graduation came and went without a job offer, and then the countdown began, “it’s been x months since graduation, what are you doing all day? You cannot be job hunting, it’s not working, stop applying for things on the internet go there and ask to fill out an application.” It didn’t help that my first job actually happened to come from showing up and filling out an app. But I digress, I’ve been relatively steadily employed since then but my mom is now planning to move to another state in year or so, so she’s increasing the pressure on me to move. From advising me to move to Fl with a friend to making jokes that I’ll be sitting in the driveway as she’s pulling away to move.

      Needless to say, I’ve used a lot of the advice here and limited what I tell her.

    11. OhNo*

      I also dealt with this when I moved back home for grad school. Your approach will probably depend a lot on your parents’ personalities, I would imagine.

      My parent responds really well when he gets to be the self-esteem support, so I would usually wax poetic about the job (they pay so much! it’s exactly what I want to do! benefits! great career move!) and couple it with self-deprecating comments (I’m not experienced enough! I don’t have the right degree! I sounded dumb in the interview!). That way when I got rejected, he would come back with a slew of supportive talk (who cares what they think, you’re great! they don’t know what they’re missing! you’ll get it next time!).

      My friend’s father is the critical type, so when she job searches, she makes sure to frame rejections as the company’s fault. That way her parent gets grumpy at the company for not hiring her, rather than at her for supposedly messing up the application/interview.

      Definitely try to limit the information that you give them, but also try framing what info you choose to give them in a way that works with their personalities.

      1. Stephanie*

        If there are any angel investors reading this, please fund the Pound the Pavement coffee house/job seeker halfway house!

  28. cereal killer*

    I need help from the European readers or Americans that have worked abroad. I’m applying to a job in Europe- I know my chances are slim since they favor EU candidates. But I’m otherwise a good fit, so you never know until you try. Right? However the post is asking to for CV and I’ve only ever had a resume. I can build out my experience section to be more CV like, but what about the other info? Googling for an hour made me even more confused. Can someone give me a quick rundown, or a link to a good resource, for CV writing?

    Is a head shot absolutely necessary? What personal info needs to be included? As an American this already makes me squeamish, but templates I’ve looked at put it right at the top! Do you need a personal statement?

    The job specifically is in Denmark, if that matters, though I would like to have something if future opportunities pop up. Most of the top returns on google are for “europass” which has free templates, but I’m still not sure what it is and if it is a valid format to follow or out dated career-center like info that is going to be laughed at (like include an objective on your resume). Thanks in advance for the help!!

    1. Anon*

      A CV is pretty much the same as a resume.

      It should list your contact details, skills, qualifications and employment history.

      Head shots aren’t common (in the UK anyway), but I’m not sure about other EU countries.

      1. Pip*

        Swede here (I have reading comprehension of Danish). I looked at a bunch of sample CV:s in Danish, and they are very similar to the templates in eemmzz’ link.

        It looks like headshots are optional – maybe half of the examples had one.

        It also looks like 2 pages is the norm in Denmark.

        Personal information like name, address, e-mail and phone number are a must at the top. Marital status can be omitted there, but it should be included at the end under the Other info/Personal, and that’s where you also mention any hobbies or interests.

        The Europass is like Clare said below mostly used by the EU institutions.

        Google “cv skabelon” or “cv eksempel dansk” and look at the pictures to get a better idea.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      I’m pretty sure that outside of academia and a few professional fields (the one I work in being one of them), “CV” overseas is synonymous with “resume” in the US.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        True, but as others have posted, the content expectations can differ. I’ve seen overseas CVs (try saying that 5x fast) where schools listed went all the way back to kindergarten. Also included were DOB, marital status, specific test scores, number of children (with names and ages), along with headshots. So, while CV = Resume, there are all kinds of things to consider. A somewhat helpful book I have used in the past (also comes with examples) is the “global cv and resume guide.”

    3. Elkay*

      Not sure about headshots, as Anon says they’re not common in the UK but I know they are in some other countries.

      My CV has contact details, education (degree subject and classification followed by A level results then GCSE results), employment history (most recent first), IT skills (Microsoft Office level, other relevant software packages), volunteering information and other information (the fact that I have a car and passport).

      The last three sections are possibly a bit outdated but they’re handy catch-alls for information about myself that might be useful to the employer.

    4. Clare*

      Europass is not just an out-dated format, as it’s what I was required to use when I applied for a job at the European Commission (last year). However, I think that outside the Commission it’s not a good idea to use it unless asked.

      Have you seen this website?

      It’s hosted by the Danish govenment, so the templates are probably a good idea of what they’re looking for.

    5. Bryan*

      Is CV their term for resume. Sometimes I see people use CV for jobs that I would never do a CV for.

      1. cereal killer*

        Could be, but I know conventions vary by country regardless of what you call it. I would never include marital status on my resume in the US. But in other countries they might be expecting it. I just want to make sure I include the info they are expecting to see in the hopes that if it looks familar in format maybe they won’t notice that I’m a US citizen before they look at my work experience. Ha!

    6. Egekilde*

      I’m an American expatriate in Denmark who just did hiring :)

      It was a weird experience for me to deal with CV’s and how interviewing is done here.

      Yes it was considered normal to include pictures. It was also considered normal to include some personal activity (I like hiking, etc.) on the CV. I was told this is to show well-roundedness.

      Personally I ignored objectives and such, just as I would in America (some had them, some didn’t). Instead it was the same advice Allison gives – cover letter, tailoring, and results that mattered. I would make sure the resume aesthetically is pleasing (simple, clean) – Danes do love design afterall.

      Other things I noticed that were different:
      1. Expect to be asked what your parents did for a living. For some reason that matters.
      2. Be aware of “janetlove” – even the ones who say they don’t follow it, do a little. Understand how your default-Americanness might come across under that lens.
      3. The perception of Americans is that we love titles and sometimes oversell ourselves. Danes value qualifications and experience very very much. Direct language showing results is what counts, not flowery “consulting-y” writing.

      I’ll add more if I think about it – overall though, it is a fantastic country to work in and good luck!

    7. Sali*

      Europe is a huge continent with a lot of countries and cultures. If there’s a specific country you are thinking of going to then perhaps just research that particular one? Otherwise it’s impossible to generalise for the entire continent…

      I’m from the UK so I can tell you that pretty much everything that Alison on AAM says about resumes is absolutely true here too – all except we call it a CV, not resume. So in the UK don’t worry about headshots (unless they ask), don’t put personal details like marital status or birth date, objectives and hobbies are unnecessary fluff, job history should be chronological, no need to put references on there, etc…

      I hope this helps!

      1. Sali*

        Duh – just read that you said you’re trying for a Danish job. So there you go! Info for the UK if you ever need it. :)

    8. Isabelle*

      I don’t live in Denmark so I don’t know about the specific situation there. I just wanted to make you aware that several EU countries have implemented strict measures that make it difficult to fill vacancies with non-EU cistizens. So it’s not just the case that employers favour EU citizens, it’s that they sometimes have a limited say in the matter. If they want to hire a non-EU citizen they need to prove to the government that they could not find a EU citizen to fill the vacancy.
      You may have dual citizenship, in which case this advice doesn’t apply to you but I wanted to point this out just in case.

      I’ve worked in 4 EU countries and I think the last time I was expected to provide a headshot was around 15 years ago. It’s the same with personal details. The company may give you a separate sheet to fill in with your gender, marital status, race, sexual orientation and religion. This will be sealed in a separate envelope that will be processed by HR and it will not be made available to your interviewer. This information is kept for statistical purposes and to ensure the recruitment process is fair and non-discriminatory. My CV used the chronological format and is focused on work history, skills and education and doesn’t list any personal details other than my contact information. Again, I don’t know how things work in Denmark specifically.

    9. De (Germany)*

      I am kind of bothered by your use of “Europe” as a catch all and “if it matters” to be honest. Yes, for different countries the process will be very different and you will need to adapt your application package to that. You will definitely need to research the process they have in Denmark and not Europe.

    10. Anne 3*

      I’m from Belgium and I’ve always seen the two terms as synonyms because 9 times out of 10, the employer wants a one page resume.

  29. TKL*

    Quick question that I’m pretty sure I’ve seen addressed before but could sue a little guidance on, and then just a general rant because ugh.

    Currently job hunting. I work in media and there’s a particular well-know, generally respected publication I very much want to work for. I’ve applied to a couple of positions over the past two years in a couple different departments but until I found this site had a terribly organized resume and didn’t get any contacts from them. I’ve been really picky about only applying to jobs I know I could excel in that are in departments that genuinely interest me so I don’t just look desperate.

    I applied to a job last week in the department I most want to work in, but in a role I don’t feel as overly enthralled with, but I saw today they added another posting to another department I would like but am less interested in with a role I’d be much better at. The resumes are to be sent to the direct supervisors of these departments, so different people. I’m thinking I want to apply to this other one as well, but am unsure of how to address the previous application/if I *have* to do that this early on, especially considering I haven’t heard anything from the other manager yet.


    I’m just getting so emotionally exhausted by my job search. I have a great job for a very well known media group, but I am significantly underpaid, our content focus does not interest me at all, and the most exciting project I’ve gotten has become an arduous chore because a manager of another department threw an absolute fit (like, screaming, crying, in front of multiple department heads) because she wanted to be “in charge” of it, and our vp’s solution to that was that I get to be micromanaged by her to death, do all the work, and get zero of the credit.

    I just feel so bored and unchallenged and it’s making me severely depressed. I very much want to go back to my home city to be with my family and work for a station or publication there, but I’ve been rigorously applying for jobs for over a year now and have only gotten one interview, after which I was asked for a series of follow up materials, recommended for abetter position, and then have never heard from them again. It’s been a month since I sent a carefully worded “it’s a week past the deadline you gave me just checking in on the timeline and to reiterate my interest” kind of email.

    I’m in such a competitive industry and the only connections I have are through my current place of employment. I don’t want to leave without another job lined up because taking a step back in my career could take such a long time to recuperate from but I honestly feel like I’m losing it. I genuinely love hectic, busy, stimulating challenges and begin so bored at work that the depressing is making it nearly impossible to accomplish anything anymore. Not to mention the pay is so bad that despite working in a high ranking and respected role here for 50+ hours a week, I also have a part time waitressing job and still live paycheck to paycheck. If I stay much longer I’m worried I’m going to become just a totally useless employee because I can’t force the motivation anymore. I’ve thought about going back to school to specialize in a different aspect of the media industry, but the programs that do what I’m looking for are incredibly expensive and selective.

    So yeah, just needed to get that out of my system a bit.

    1. Anonymous*

      Maybe one more very polite email to the media company and then let it drop? I don’t think it could hurt, and it sounds like you’re really excited about the opportunity.

  30. shaky bacon*

    Woooo, love Friday open threads.

    This is more of a rant because I already know what I need to do in this situation, even though I don’t want to.

    I have a co-worker who concerns herself with things that are no longer part of her job. She transferred to a role in a different function (but we’re still in the same department) almost a year ago, and I’ve been in the role she vacated since then. Yesterday, after a company-wide announcement about some pretty major changes, she took it upon herself to start the work (our department’s portion of supporting the changes) I’m responsible for, without even talking to me about it beforehand. And she just happened to email me about it right before she left for the day and now she’s on vacation.

    I know she has good intentions, but it rubbed me the wrong way. And of course my mind goes to the corner of ridiculous assumptions such as “does she think I don’t know how to do my job?!” I had a sneaking suspicion that she would do this because all the questions she asked in our meeting about the changes were related those logistical details that I would have to take care of. Argh.

    1. HM in Atlanta*

      Since she’s on vacation – scrap it. Do what you need to do in your job. If there’s anything she did that’s salvageable, great – less work for you. In dealing with others, don’t refernce what she did. If anyone asks you, use a throwaway compliment, “Co-Worker is always willing to help out. Now, if you look at…”

      1. shaky bacon*

        Thanks. Definitely plan on just doing my own thing. But I will probably talk to her about minding her own business in the future… phrased diplomatically, of course.

  31. Joie de Vivre*

    After having discussion about an increasingly excessive workload with my manager, the issue was ‘resolved’ by getting me a second computer so I can literally work on two things at once. Still only one of me though.

    Anyone else have unusual management responses to having a legitimate workload issue?

    1. CanadianWriter*

      I used to work at a place that put in two phones, side by side, so that I could talk to two customers at the same time. I tried to explain to the boss that I only had one mouth but nooooo.

    2. TheExchequer*

      My boss’s recent solution to the workload (and yes, she knows full well that at the moment I am so far in the weeds that I can see Kansas) is to go slower. Not even kidding – she now wants me to look at every. single. thing. in. detail. And somehow, go faster, so the workload isn’t as bad. I like her a great deal, I do, but I don’t understand how that is a viable solution.

      Where’s the TARDIS when I need it?

    3. cereal killer*

      I have a job where I have to work very closely within cross functional teams to get anything accomplished. At my old job we would present to the CEO on our projects once a month or so. It was a big deal with models and boards and people wearing suits and what not. I had two projects I needed to present and a counterpart had two projects he needed to present. We only had one 3D CAD person working on all four of our projects and he only had a week and each project would take at least 2-3 days to complete. So me and my counterpart spoke with our manager and CAD guy’s manager about the issue and what projects they want to prioritize. After an hour long meeting they decide CAD guys is going to have “rotating priorities”. Monday his priority is project x, Tues it’s project y, Wed project z, etc. Great! We ended up with 4 half completed projects and no one presented at the meeting.

  32. Leeloo*

    Augh, the perennial goofy “how do I address this cover letter” question. I hate to ask it, and usually just like to go with “Dear hiring manager” if I don’t know a name… except in this case I know that it’s in a new unit and the person who will manage this position is also being hired. So, I’m afraid that “dear hiring manager” would seem like I’m clueless about the status of things (it’s a position on the city payroll, so plenty of info is public).
    Oh, overthinking, isn’t it fun! Anyone have an idea?

    1. eemmzz*

      According to jobsearch in a recent survey “Dear Hiring Manager” was the most preferred way to address in a cover letter without a name. The second most popular choice was “To whom it may concern” and then “Dear Sir/Madam”. I’d personally pick which one felt most natural to me rather than try to think too hard about it. I like to ensure my written work is a reflection of my personality

      1. Leeloo*

        Fair enough. It bothers me a little that “To whom it may concern” and “Dear Sir/Madam” both sound notably more formal than my usual writing style, but I guess neither one will raise any eyebrows.

        1. eemmzz*

          Weirdly for me Dear Sir/Madam is my preferred choice out of the three. I think as long as it isn’t something outrageous like “Yo wazzup” I think you’ll be ok. I’d focus more on writing a kickass letter and ensuring that my spelling and grammar is as perfect as possible. Good luck with the application! :)

          1. CanadianWriter*

            You’re not supposed to start cover letters with yo wazzup? No wonder I never get any callbacks.

    2. Jean*

      A friend who is a lawyer edited one of my cover letters so that instead of “To Whom It May Concern” it opened with “Dear Ladies and Gentlemen.” It seemed both very formal and surprisingly warm, so I’ve stuck with it on some of my subsequent letters.

      For a temp companies I went with “Dear Staffing Professional.” No response yet but it’s only been a few days.

      I, too, would be interested in hearing other comments on this question.

      Mini-rant: Although I’m working hard to stay positive and act constructively, I look forward to the day that I accept a job and can stop–for a while, anyway–writing these letters!

      1. Leeloo*

        Hmm, that does have a nice ring to it. I’ve very much enjoyed when I have a sense of a place’s hiring process and can say something like “Dear [hiring manager’s name] and search committee”.

        I so hear you. It would be weirdly wonderful to be able to get, I don’t know, two years out of date on how to apply for a job. I think that’d be nice.

      2. eemmzz*

        I’d personally find that a little bit of a weird but it is certainly different. I guess it all depends on country and industry (for me it is software development in the UK)

      3. Bryan*

        There’s something about that strikes me as off. It reminds me of how a comic would open their act in the early 90s. Also there is a chance someone might not identify with either of those gender pronouns and be offended.

        1. Audiophile*

          But then wouldn’t they also be bothered by ‘Dear Sir/Madam’? I usually say ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ and haven’t run into any problems.

          1. Bryan*

            I can’t really speak for that group so I don’t know. I have always used dear hiring manager which I think just avoids the issue.

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      SOMEBODY is the hiring manager, whether or not that person is also the managing manager. Go with Dear Hiring Manager.

      1. Leeloo*

        That’s a good point. And even though I know the managing manager isn’t there (that job posting is still up) obviously the higher ups are.

    4. LPBB*

      Usually I go with “Dear Hiring Manager,” but sometimes depending on mood and relative formality of the listing/business, I go with “Good Morning”/”Good Afternoon” depending on what time I send the email.

    5. Sharm*

      I default to “Dear Hiring Manager” if there is no name listed. However, if there is a name listed, and the gender is very obvious, I’d go with “Dear Mr./Ms. Smith.” I had one recently where I just couldn’t tell the gender from the name; it must have been ethnic though from somewhere I wasn’t familiar with. I tried Googling the person to no avail. So, even though I had a name, I went with “Dear Hiring Manager.” And if the name was something like “Pat Brown” or even “Ashley Brown,” I’d go with “Dear Hiring Manager.” Because you never know!

      For the record, I say this as someone with a very unusual ethnic name that my parents misspelled on purpose (thanks, Mom and Dad!), so I get a lot of, “Dear Mr. Sharm,” even though I ain’t no mister. :-)

  33. Katie the Fed*

    YAYYY I’ve been waiting for this all week.

    OK, here’s the deal. I’ve been thinking more and more about career change and I think what I’d like to do (and what I’d be really good at) is mediation/conflict resolution. I’m really good at those situations – getting each party to figure out what they want, helping find win/win solutions, etc.

    How does one even get into that? My background is political science/international relations. Would I need to go back to school? Where do you even begin?

    1. Jean*


      If you want to contact me offlist (silvercurls @ gmail (dot) com); I have a contact who is a mediator. If this person agrees (e.g. current workload allows for information interviews) I can put you two in touch.

    2. ella*

      I think it depends on what kind of conflicts you want to mediate? Are we talking staying in the American office world and working in HR, or working in the courts somehow, or in going to far off lands and mediating civil wars? (I know a few folks who go to Israel/Palestine several times a year to conduct workshops that get Israelis and Palestinians to talk to each other.)

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Oh, American/office/court types of mediation. Katie the Grad Student might have been more interested in the international kind but Katie the Fed is older and more jaded :)

    3. Cat*

      One thing that might be worth looking into is mediation programs at universities–I know some of them run workshops and seminars of varying lengths for different kinds of professionals. The one I have personal experience with is the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation; it’s fantastic, and there were people from all kinds of fields involved in it.

        1. LAI*

          Yes, a lot of universities have an office called the Ombuds or Ombudsman (it’s some Danish word) and they are essentially the campus mediation office.

    4. Mediation Professional*

      Hi Katie the Fed!
      Okay – So, as far as mediation in the US not involving international relations (which I know nothing about) there are 4 basic paths in the private sector:
      1. You are a lawyer and you mediate certain kinds of civil issues, from money/business issues to family/divorce stuff
      2. You are a therapist or similar and offer mediation (generally to families) as part of your practice
      3. You work for a community mediation center – there’s on in Alexandria if you are in the DC area (probably others too, but I’m familiar with that one, which is excellent).
      4. You work in a conflict resolution role serving those internal to some organization (as an HR professional, as an ombuds at a university, etc.).

      Many people think that you can get some training and open a private practice, but (a) that is nearly impossible without experience and (b) if you’re not a lawyer or a therapist, the market is very, very limited.

      So – if you look at #3 or #4 – The first thing that you need to do is get some training. You could start with your local community mediation center, who will offer training, and maybe an apprenticeship program. It tends to be reasonably priced. Then, you need to get some experience. The easiest way to do this is as a volunteer. Universities and community mediation centers are your best bet. People with a lot of different backgrounds work in these fields – but you most likely won’t be a competitive candidate if you don’t have any training at all (especially without a degree in social work or similar) – so you really should do that first.

      There are also federal jobs in conflict resolution with the forest service, postal service, and probably a lot of other branches of government. You probably know better than I do where to find info on the background they are looking for there.

      You could also get a master’s in conflict resolution – but I don’t know that that is really necessary. There are so few programs in the country, that people without this specific degree are often hired for jobs related to conflict resolution.

      What probably won’t work (and it doesn’t sound like you’re thinking in this direction, but a lot of people try this) is to try to sell yourself to an employer as someone who is qualified on the basis of having has the disposition of a mediator. You really do need at least some training and experience. Community mediation centers can be a great start in any of these directions, because while you won’t get paid to volunteer, at least you get free experience – and you can probably set your own schedule and just volunteer a night or two each month.

      I’ll check again later if you have more questions.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Ah thank you – that’s really helpful! I’m actually very close to the Alexandria one – I might get in touch and see what’s available. The training/volunteering type sounds like a great introduction to that world (because 1) I know I have no idea what I’m doing and 2) I might hate it). I would love doing it on a volunteer basis and then going from there.

        The federal options are something to consider too. We have someone who does ADR where I work but I was…unimpressed. And I don’t think the employer takes it seriously enough, but other places might. Since I’m already in federal service it would theoretically be easier to switch once I have the training/background.

        So for mediators who work at a community mediation centers get paid salary usually, or per session? What kind of pay range would a fairly experienced mediator make?

        Do you like it? What do you like about it? What don’t you like?

        Sorry if that’s too many questions. :)

        1. Mediation Professional*

          Community mediation staff are generally paid a salary – but some mediation centers pay people just to mediate cases – although that is probably not full-time work. Salaries are similar to other salaries in the nonprofit world. In this area (which is more rural), they’re in the mid-30s to mid-40s, but the cost of living where you are is much higher, so I’d guess that the salaries are higher. However, many salaried staff spend more time doing more intake and coordination than mediating, since they have volunteers who do a lot of the mediating – but that’s not always the case.

          I love it – no complaints from me. Having worked with many people over the years – when people don’t like it, it’s usually because they feel like they’re just listening to people complain all day, or because they have trouble really BEING neutral and are exhausting themselves by trying to ACT neutral. You’ve got to find this space in yourself where you’re totally focused on hearing people and facilitating the process, and not at all focused at thinking about solutions to their problems or whether one is right and the other is wrong. That is really tiring, because you can’t say any of that stuff, and it distracts you from listening and being helpful – so it wears you out. You’ve also got to be able to walk out of the room and let it go – you can’t carry everyone’s conflicts on your shoulders -that’s too much for anyone. It’s not unlike social work in this way. Some people find that this comes very naturally, and others struggle to find the sweet spot.

          What I love is that we help so many people move through things that are stressful and difficult, and that mediation helps them feel empowered in the meantime. They are often in situations that feel totally hopeless, but they still find a way through that works for everybody. We can’t ever really understand what other people need, and we can’t solve their problems FOR them, but we can provide a space that makes it much easier for them to do it themselves. It also works. Almost all the time. There are many settings for mediation, and many styles of practice, but all generally see resolution rates around 85% (meaning that everyone involved says the problem is solved).

          You might consider getting an individual membership to the National Association for Community Mediation (it’s about $50/year) which will give you access to lots of resources and free webinars, as well as a supportive network.

          Also – if you can’t find training in your neighborhood – check Maryland – any of the centers in their state offer the same training and it’s really top-notch (it might also be free if you’re willing to volunteer in Maryland).

          You might also look into the certification requirements and process for different types of mediators in Virginia – it varies tremendously by state.

          1. Mediation Professional*

            oh…and if you e-mail me at papayamango2 at yahoo dot com I’ll give you my real e-mail and work contact info (I use this one for potential junk only, but I’ll check it)

  34. anon*

    I have an uncomfortable situation that is causing stress at home and at work – and would appreciate any advice on dealing with the work side.

    My fiance is self-employed as a contractor, mostly working on small jobs. A colleague asked me for his contact information, since he had a home reno project. I did not promote my fiance to this colleague – but since my colleague and I are friendly, he knew what kind of work my fiance does. My fiance put together a proposal and got the job, and things started out well, but recently unravelled, and my fiance was fired by my colleague. My fiance feels awful about the situation – he’s depressed, is now out of work, and he knows that since it was for my colleague, it can potentially impact me a great deal. My colleague and I spoke about it once immediately afterwards, both expressing unhappiness that things ended the way they did, but also with a desire that it not impact our working relationship, which has always been friendly.

    Despite this conversation, I am still distraught – I have a massive pit in my stomach every time I run into my colleague at work. How should I handle things with my colleague? Apologise again? Just leave things alone? I really just wish the whole thing had never happened! As an aside, I try really hard to not get involved in my fiance’s work, since I am not his boss, nor do I wish to be – though this experience is really trying that resolve!

    1. Anoners*

      I think it’s best to just move on interact with them as you would if this had never happened. I mean, what kind of conversations about it could you have now? You’ve already hashed it out once, and if you bring it up again it might just make it more awkward for the both of you. Just act professionally and and try to not let it get you down.

    2. KCS*

      Agree with Anoners. You did already hash it out. There is nothing left to resolve and nothing for you to apologize for. Sometimes, projects fall apart. I feel bad for your fiance, but things will bounce back. Just act cordial towards the colleague and avoid raising the project in conversation.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It’s not your emotion to process, really. These things happen- deals fall through for hundreds of reasons. Hopefully, Fiance now has a better idea of how to present/handle things and a better idea of his limitations and abilities. I have never seen a person with a new business NOT have this type of thing happen.

      It sounds like your coworker is being good about it all. I think Fiance will feel better once he has moved on to his next project. And yeah, until he finds that path to move forward he is going to feel lousy about things. Just encourage him that many people have been through similar bad situations and that there is, indeed, a path to move forward- if he looks around he will find that path.

  35. Holly*

    How do you all feel about the practice of “erasing” people who were fired or left the company? Meaning, my company likes to suddenly usher someone who’s being let go out at any random point in the day, without saying anything to anyone, and when asked about it they not only say they either can’t say (I get that, to an extent) or don’t know, then say they don’t even know who the person is! It’s like the employee never existed in the first place. It bothers the hell out of me, but I get the feeling this is standard at companies. Thoughts?

    1. Char*

      This sounds scary. I don’t think that’s the standard. I have never encountered anyone being fired but when someone resigns, atmosphere did get a little tense (e.g not sure if we should pass this client’s info to him/her or is it okay to provide data when requested etc). But overall, I feel that ‘erasing’ someone is really scary. I hope it’s not something practiced by companies. It sounds a lack of feeling and is like, when someone no longer serves you, you ignore them.

    2. TKL*

      My company did that the last time the fired someone. Those of us who worked with the person generally understood why as we had seen it coming, but no one really knew any thing for sure and it caused a lot of rumors and gossiping that I think would have been avoided if the higher ups weren’t so sketchy about it. I think their thought process was that they didn’t want to seem like
      they were gossiping by informing us, but it left a lot of questions and paranoia in the remaining employees.

    3. Mike C.*

      It’s a tactic straight out of 1984. It’s petty, it’s unproductive, it’s creepy and it’s demoralizing.

      People come and people go. Sometimes they leave on their own, or not. Sometimes it’s on good terms and sometimes it’s on bad. But at the end of the day, business continues. There needs to be acknowledgement that someone has left and what the plan is after the fact. For management that practices “erasing”, they need to get over it and be professional.

      It’s standard at many companies but not all, especially at my last job. I remember when the mail room guy was fired – no one was told, no one replaced him, and nothing was said to anyone. All while equipment and packages were piling up.

    4. Parfait*

      My giant megacorp has this policy. They aren’t to say anything to anyone unless that person’s departure directly impacts someone’s work; then they can be told.

      I think that’s extremely cold. I’m not saying every employee around the globe needs to know when one of the employees in our tiny branch office gets fired, but I do think everybody in our tiny branch office should be informed.

    5. chewbecca*

      There’s one department in my company that does something similar.

      It’s frustrating for me because I run the switchboard and they flat out refuse to tell me someone’s left or who to send their calls to (I’ve asked several different people multiple times). It’s really embarrassing to find out that an employee is gone from one of our customers.

    6. 22dncr*

      Funny story – I worked at a place that tried this and boy did it backfire on them. We’d had a contest to think of a “saying” that epitomized our company. The winner, Tom, won I don’t recall what but the ultimate win was the saying got stenciled onto the front window. The winner quit for another job right after this and the President was so mad at him he had someone scratch his name off the window. Then a very large Client came in, noticed and asked about why Tom’s name was no longer there? The Pres gave some REALLY lame excuse that did not impress the Client and the next day Tom’s name was put back (; This is also the Pres that, when confronted with how everyone was burned out and working too much overtime, said: “But they get paid for it!”

    7. lachevious*

      My last job did this with the support staff – not maliciously but it was difficult because there were so many locations/departments, it was hard to know who took over what unless you were in the same location/department.
      Announcements were generally sent out when the higher-ups were leaving (both voluntarily and involuntarily).
      My current company doesn’t really send out emails when anyone leaves – but word usually gets around.

      What bugs me is when people don’t update their LinkedIn after they leave a job* – or when companies don’t update their websites after employees leave.

      *This is just a pet peeve – it’s really none of my business what people do with their LinkedIn accounts, I just think it’s odd that, when they are otherwise active on it, they don’t keep the employment part updated.

    1. HM in Atlanta*

      I think slate is trying to get page views to avoid the fate of Television without Pity

    2. Bryan*

      I usually don’t believe in derogatory comments but what a stupid article written solely for the attention. And I’m falling victim to the trap. First of all you get dependent credits. Second the world is overpopulated as it is. Third some people who might not want children or be ready to have children might then have children to save money. So even if the author’s idea is the best one it’s not going to ever move forward to law.

    3. Laufey*

      Without sounding cruel and unfeeling –

      As a single, childless taxpayer – I do support families with children directly in my taxes – I pay for public schools and busing (and I don’t mind paying for these things -they’re public goods and I’d much rather have the next generation be educated than not). I buy the candy bars and wrapping paper, go the car washes and bake sales, etc. And I don’t even have kids! Now I’m supposed to pay double?

      Plus, childless workers often have implicit taxes anyway – Don’t we all of stories of getting locked out of vacation time or expected to cover hours/shifts because we’re single and/or childless and we “don’t have a family”?

      I mean, yes, having kids is expensive. But having kids is also a good thing. I mean, memories, trips (excuses to go to Disney World, anyone?), chasing monsters around the house – it’s not like the only thing associated with kids is expense. If it was, no one would have them.

      1. SunglassesAtNight*

        This so much. I have absolutely no issues paying taxes- including taxes that go towards assisting parents in need. But just because I’m childless doesn’t mean I automatically have more money. Some of us childless are struggling more than parents to put food on the table for just ourselves

        1. Bryan*

          Some people might also be childless because they don’t earn that much money and can’t afford to have children.

      2. Sadsack*

        “I mean, yes, having kids is expensive. But having kids is also a good thing. ”

        Having kids is also a choice. Parents made the choice to become parents. Pay your taxes, people!

    4. Sigrid*

      Wasn’t that a done thing in several Eastern European countries during the Soviet era? I’m waiting for Jen from RO to pop up to tell us about Romania’s experiment with a similar tax code. To my knowledge, it was pretty much a disaster, since the people who couldn’t afford to pay the higher tax were also the people who couldn’t afford to have more children.

      1. Jen RO*

        I really have no idea! I did read (on an American site) that women with more kids had a tax break at some point, but I’ve never checked if it was true.

        I was sure that article was some sort of April Fools prank, I just can’t believe someone could honestly argue for something like this.

        1. Sigrid*

          I swear I’m not making it up! Under Ceausescu, anyone over the age of 25 who did not have children had significantly higher taxes — something like 20% of their income. (I’m not sure how much compliance there was with that, but it was at least codified in law.) It’s something that tends to get lost in Western discussions of Ceausescu’s natalist policies because the focus tends to be on the criminalization of abortion and contraception, but it was part and parcel of the whole policy. The general opinion in the West is that it was a cluster%(@$, but that’s the general opinion in the West of all of Ceausescu’s policies, so take that as you will.

          The best English-language resource I’ve found on it is The Politics of Duplicity: Controlling Reproduction in Ceausescu’s Romania. It’s available on Google Books, although, annoying, many of the relevant pages are not available without buying the book (

      2. Laufey*

        I feel like I’ve read something about that in a Freakonomics-type book. Don’t remember the details though.

    5. Mike C.*

      This should be interesting.. :D

      I hate hate hate hate the idea of simply taxing someone for not having kids. It’s one thing to give parents a tax credit per kid, to publicly fund education (preK-college), WIC, make workplaces more accommodating for parents (including class protecting for becoming pregnant, etc) and so on. I think we should continue that, and do more – more prenatal care, more access to family planning, more support for new parents, and so on. That makes society a better place to live in regardless of one’s child count.

      But to simply charge me because my wife and I chose not to or cannot have children? That’s a really, really ugly message to send. It’s not the responsibility of people to reproduce, nor is it a problem that needs solving. We’re at 7B people right now, and long term estimates have us leveling off around 9-10B. We’re not having a shortage of parents. And what happens in the sad case of a parent losing a child, do they get their taxes increased for that? That’s simply monstrous!

      But if you want to address the issue of income inequality, the issue isn’t number of children or people who chose not to have children of their own. The issue is actual income inequality. Just look outside our boarders and many countries have a much better handle on this than we do.

      1. Mike C.*

        One other thing –

        In looking at income distribution in the United States – data from the Census – the number of kids per household trends upwards with income, so a tax like this would only make the income inequality issue worse, not better.

        “Household type is strongly correlated with household income. Married couples are disproportionately represented in the upper two quintiles, compared to the general population of households. Cross-referencing shows that this is likely due to the presence of multiple income earners in these families. Non-family households (individuals) are disproportionately represented in the lower two quintiles. Households headed by single males are disproportionately found in the middle three quintiles; single females head households concentrated in the bottom three quintiles.

        The highest income households are almost ten times as likely to own their homes rather than rent, but in the lowest quintile, the ratio of owners to renters is nearly one to one.”

        So most of the extra household members in the upper quintiles are going to be children, while in the lower quintiles adults.


    6. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I should have said: I know the author of this article, and I assure you he didn’t write it for Slate’s pageviews (although I’m sure he did write it for attention – he is a pundit by profession, after all!). He’s kindof a professional agitator.

      1. Mike C.*

        To the best of your knowledge, does the author believe in some intrinsic responsibility for parents to have children? It feels implied, but it wasn’t stated directly.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          No, I don’t think so. I do think he believes that raising the next generation is a public good, and therefore something we should all be responsible for paying for.

          1. Laufey*

            Then can I adopt a family and go to Disney and Legoland with them? Can I steal kids to go Trick-or-Treating with? Can I come over for Thanksgiving dinner (I’ll help dry the dishes. Well, I’ll teach the kids to do it, anyway.)? Can I invite myself over for family game night? I feel like if I’m making the choice to not have kids yet (and save up for a time when I might want them), but I still have to contribute more expenses to them, then I should get some of the perks here, too.

            1. Laufey*

              Eh, that came out a little meaner than I meant it to. Yes, I’m okay paying for school infrastructure and things like that (within reason), because educating the next generation does good things for me and is the right thing to do. But taxing the childless for being childless is not the right way to do it.

              As a side note, what about a couple that can’t conceive. So now they have the added insult to injury of not being able to conceive and they get to pay taxes on that fact. Yes, that will go over really well.

              1. Laufey*

                Or people with genetic conditions they don’t want to risk passing on? Are they going to pay the tax during the lengthy (years-long, oftentimes) process it takes to fully adopt a child?

                Do foster parents have to pay the tax, since the kids aren’t theirs and often aren’t with them for a full year, but they’re doing a thankless, much needed thing?

                Taxing people for not having kids also opens up strange interactions between the tax and the work of groups like Planned Parenthood. Now, instead of charging women for their birth control, we’re going to charge them for deciding to use birth control. Totally different things.

                1. Laufey*

                  Also – when does the tax kick in? When you become sexually capable of procreating (which would inherently tax females more than males)? When you turn 18 (when most Americans are still in high school)? When you turn 21? When is the state-sponsored official age of parenthood? When you menopause, are you exempted? What if you have a hysterectomy?

      2. Not So NewReader*

        He seems to agitate people quite well. But this is really not well thought out. Under this plan here, people would just have kids and dump them in the streets while collecting the tax benefits.
        Oh wait……

    7. J.B.*

      Other than never gonna fly ;-)? Better to focus on something specific, like more support for childcare (which is wacko expensive!)

    8. SunglassesAtNight*

      I find this article laughable- mostly because I find the government is much more willing to help out those with children than those without. I’m fb friends with some people from high school who have kids. Some are married, some aren’t. Can someone explain to me why the single mother with 3 kids who works 20 hours a week at a fast food joint can take her kids to disney world and I, someone who works everyday and has only myself, can barely afford to live?

      1. lachevious*

        “single mother with 3 kids who works 20 hours a week at a fast food joint can take her kids to disney world and I, someone who works everyday and has only myself”

        Maybe she works at a fast food joint *at* Disneyland and get’s free tickets for her and her children :)

        I don’t understand how anyone gets to do anything. I don’t know how my single mother with a full-time nursing job and three kids managed to take us on vacation every six months. I don’t know why I can’t, as a single mother with two kids and a full-time job, can’t seem to take a cool vacation. I also don’t think comparing myself to other people is a good habit to get into – because we can’t ever really know how the other half lives.

        I’m still trying to figure out how to do the best I can with what I do have, and not worry about what I don’t have.

    9. Mints*

      I admit I didn’t read the entire thing (I’ll go back,I promise) but this doesn’t make any sense.

      Okay, I agree that we should put more money into infrastructure that benefits children. I support paying teachers better, and paying for extracurriculars, and WIC, etc.

      I also realize these things need to be paid for by increased taxes. But I support progressive tax codes, and there are a bunch of corporate tax cuts I disagree with.

      Even if I end up paying more either way, I’m ethically okay with the idea of paying more because I’m making okay money, but I’m not okay with paying more because of my (lack of) reproduction.

      I really feel like this is shifting the burden and focusing on the wrong demographics. The rich and rich companies can pay more, the childless aren’t necessarily rich

      1. lachevious*


        The childless still have responsibilities/bills/families. It’s not fair to make someone pay more taxes because they chose not to have kids.

        I’d be willing to pay higher taxes if everyone could have access to free education (including college). For as much as education is touted as the be-all-end-all it sure is hard to get (in my experience).

    10. OhNo*

      So tell me, under this plan – what do we do for the people who would love to have kids but are sterile / keep having miscarriages / are otherwise unable to conceive for reasons entirely outside their control?

      What do we do for gay men, who cannot conceive themselves and have no reasonable expectation of ever being in a relationship where “natural” conception might occur?

      What do we do for those who cannot conceive, but also cannot afford to adopt? What about those who are s0 often rejected by the adoption system (would-be single parents, people in same-sex relationships, people with disabilities, etc)?

      I’m just saying, there’s about twenty million little loopholes in this idea, any one of which could be used to discriminate financially against various protected classes of people.

  36. Maddy*

    Anybody out there successfully gone into a totally new career mi-life? I’ve been in non-profit administration and customer service since grad school and have done pretty well (department head at a nationally-known organization). However, we have had several major IT projects in the last year that I just loved that make me question if I should have really gone into some kind of science or technology field. My educational background is 100% liberal arts, so this would be a huge shift.

    Any advice?

    1. KCS*

      I transitioned several years into my career. The obvious question will be, “Why are you interested in A after having worked in Z for 10 years?” I had a story to tell – that I learned that after working in Z, I realized that my interests, personality, and skills were better suited for A because _____. After having worked on a few projects related to A and talking to people who do A, I realized I wanted to transition my career to A.

      If you know folks who work in IT, I would definitely dig deeper and get their insight. You will not only build a network, but also establish credibility with an interviewer that you researched the field and know what you’re getting yourself into.

      When you start applying for jobs, rework your current job description on your resume to emphasize the IT projects you worked on. You may have to start on a lower rung of the ladder, but you will be able to work your way up.

      I’m not sure if age is a huge factor in IT. But I noticed that because I started in my field later in life, there are folks my age who are already directors or corporate officers because they started earlier. Also, you may have to report someone who is younger. Not a huge deal, but just a minor thing I noticed.

      All that said, I would strongly urge you to explore this new field. I did, and I’m a lot happier than I was before in my previous field.

      1. Maddy*

        Thanks! In addition to practical IT, I’m also thinking about physics and engineering — things I’ve dabbled in in the past, but no real coursework or work experience to speak of (other than the Intro to Physics required of liberal arts majors at school that I aced!)

        1. Windchime*

          I actually transitioned from working in a medical billing office to IT at about age 40. I am so very, very happy that I did it. The work is better and more challenging and the money is definitely better.

    2. abby*

      At nearly mid-life I tried to transition to an analyst role in a scientific field. I have a graduate degree in the social sciences, so my knowledge of research methods and analysis is comparable to those with degrees that are more closely aligned. In addition, my work experience up to this time is applied research. Finally, I have a law degree and practical experience with law and policy in this field.

      I tried for two years and, despite great connections pushing for me, was not successful because I don’t have the correct scientific degree. I don’t know how a liberal arts degree would be viewed in a scientific field, but I know a social sciences degree was not useful.

      However, you might do well in IT. I did finally land on my feet doing something different and I enjoy it more than I thought I would. Dealing with IT issues is a significant (about 25%) of my work and I find some aspects very interesting and challenging, while I find others very annoying. Just like anything, right? More importantly, I’ve seen that it’s more about what you do than your degree.

      Good luck!

  37. Rindle*

    Does anyone have recommendations for blogs geared toward federal employees that offer AAM-style wisdom and advice? I would love to hear answers to questions like, “How do I create a resume for USAJobs that will help me make a cert?” and “What is the deal with the federal government’s bizarre application of FLSA laws to its own employees?” Thanks in advance!

    1. littlemoose*

      It’s not exactly like AAM, but you can check out for some useful info for fed employees generally.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      Try federal soup too – it’s not like this, but there are some potentially useful forums there.

  38. Zillah*

    I’m wondering if you guys can give me your takes on something.

    My SO is finishing up a Master’s in teaching – he’ll be graduating next month. He’s been student teaching this semester and really likes the school he’s in, as well as the students, and they seem to have a couple positions in his subject that are opening up. The teachers he’s working with would love to see him get hired.

    He’d been thinking that that would be great, but has seen a couple things recently that made him change his mind. One teacher did something very unprofessional to him, and while it was addressed immediately, he’s not loving the idea of working with her. He also feels like the principal is a bit of a bully, which is a big problem for him.

    I’m not really sure what to say. On one hand, yes, I think that listening to your gut is good, and from what he’s said, I’ve been thinking that it doesn’t sound like a great work environment. On the other, even though we live in a large city and he has great references, teaching positions are hard to come by, and I’m worried that if they offer him a position there and he passes on it, he’ll be stuck with subbing next year.


    1. Ann Furthermore*

      There’s no work environment that’s 100% perfect, and if your SO has the opportunity to land something permanent right away it definitely warrants further consideration. I would say go for it, and if it turns out to be the wrong fit, he can resume his job search and still be getting a steady paycheck.

      At least the unprofessional conduct was addressed. Plenty of times it goes unchecked. So the upside of this is that your SO knows that at least there’s a framework in place.

      1. Zillah*

        Well, when I say addressed, I mean that they all talked to him about it and apologized for the other teacher’s behavior, and said that she does it to everyone and that he shouldn’t take it personally. From what he said, I’m not sure they addressed it with her – not that he’d know, of course, but it sounded like they were making excuses for her from what he said and blaming her behavior on the fact that he has tenure.

        Your take is kind of mine, too, though. Especially in education, I think a lot of administrators are jerks – I’m not sure it’s really avoidable. :\

        1. Judy*

          And at least around here in the public schools, once you’re in a district, you can bid on openings in other years at another school. So if the district is large enough, he ought to be able to be at that school and if it doesn’t work out, there could be other options.

  39. SD Cat*

    I have my first in-person interview next week (I graduate with a Master’s in May)! I’ve had a couple of phone interviews but this is the first time I’ve gotten past that so far. Trying not to worry too much/over-think things (beyond preparing for it as best as I can) and keep on applying for other positions.

  40. Ann Furthermore*

    Totally non-work related: What did everyone think of the How I Met Your Mother finale? I found it very disappointing.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      I am a season behind so I will try and scroll quickly past this post as I look for other updates so that I don’t get spoilered.


    2. EAA*

      I found it very interesting that they had this planned out to some degree since the beginning.(The kids comments). My youngest daughter didn’t like it all, partly because there was too much in it. She doesn’t like it when a show crams in so much at once without more background. Older daughter hasn’t seen it yet but plans on watching whole season this summer. She hasn’t been able to watch as works 2 jobs and goes to school with class on Mondays.

      I didn’t have too much issue about the episode. It’s what I would have expected to tie up the future. I had more of an issue with the entire season revolving around the wedding weekend. Some of it got kind of old after awhile.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Well that was really dumb, I agree, and for me I thought the whole stupid love triangle ruined the show. Plus I thought the Robin character was pretty unlikable so the fact that not one but 2 guys were competing for her affections was, for me, quite unbelievable.

        I just found the whole thing a stale, reheated, tired cliche that’s been done a million times. Yawn.

      2. Laura*

        I too didnt like the season as a whole, but the finale was actually exactly what I expected, and pretty decent.

    3. Bryan*

      I think that having their hands tied by filming the finale like 6 years ago due to the child actors hurt them.

      1. LAI*

        Agreed. I heard years ago that they had already filmed the finale before the kids got too old. And maybe if they had ended the show after 3-4 seasons, that ending would have been ok. But after this long and so many breakups and getting back together (and marrying Barney!), I don’t even think Robin and Ted are good together anymore. I did read something about how obviously the show was never about the mother, despite the title, and was clearly always about Robin so this makes sense, which I kind of get. But in that case, then don’t make us fall in love with the mother and see how perfect she was for Ted before taking away our happily ever after!

        1. Bryan*

          I think in long running shows characters develop on screen instead of on paper. Also it’s a long time to be committed to something. Four years ago I wanted to be a professional classical musician. I work in academic fundraising now. Imagine I have to shift back to being a musician because that’s what I decided four years ago instead of being able to evolve.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I didn’t like it, because Ted was supposed to have grown throughout this journey, and making it all about the same woman in the end seemed like a total cop-out. I mean, they dated and broke up and managed to stay friends, which is, you know, grown-up behavior. The Robin/Barney divorce didn’t make sense. Those two were so on the same wavelength it was scary. It was only to serve the Robin/Ted thing.

      It also completely dismissed the Mother. The show was How I Met Your Mother, not How I Thought Your Mother Was The One But It Was Really Aunt Robin All Along And Mom Only Existed To Birth Me Some Babies. Ted’s whole thing was that he was looking for the love of his life, and he and Robin already tried to be that for each other AND FAILED. So it made no sense at all to go back to that.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Yes, yes, yes, 1000 times yes to this whole post. It sums it up perfectly. I also found the idea of Ted spending countless hours telling his kids that Robin was the one he wanted all along was gross.

    5. O*

      I liked it a lot because it wasn’t the perfect ending everyone was looking for, because life isn’t perfect. A lot of times you lose the love of your life, but I think being able to spend the rest of your years with a best friend makes a pretty good outcome. It doesn’t mean they loved the other person less or more, it just means they know they’re still alive and don’t want to be alone for the rest of their life. In my humble mid-twenties opinion. :)

      I thought it was sweet and realistic, I was grinning like an idiot when he finally talked to her but also couldn’t help but find the blue horn kinda awesome after all those years.

      I really did want to see one of the kids make a crack about, “can we go to the bathroom, now?” and also thought it might have been great to see Bob Saget.

      But to be fair, I only started watching the show after it was syndicated, so I didn’t have tons of years invested in the show.

      1. BausLady*

        I like your thoughts around it O. I think you’re totally right that it was going for a life’s not perfect vibe. I hadn’t really thought about it that way before.

        However, the one thing I do think they failed in, if I’m thinking about it through your framework, is that they didn’t let us mourn The Mother. I just feel like they skimmed over her death and didn’t really let us, or Ted by extension, ruminate on how she was the love of his life. I just feel really sad for her, because it seems like she’s a footnote in his life.

        1. O*

          Yes it would have been nice if that had been shown. But in the end, compared to many of the other shows I watch, at least it got an ending (um, The Glades?!). While the end episode was cramped, they also had time to prepare, instead of getting notice say two months ago and forcing an ending.

    6. Jubilance*

      OMG it was so annoying. They put us through this whole angst when Robin started dating Barney & it was all for them to get divorced after 3 years of marriage? LAME.

      My biggest beef is still how they handled the whole Ted-Robin-Barney love triangle. There’s NO way that 2 guys can be bros, love the same woman, and remain bros. It doesn’t work that way IRL.

        1. Audiophile*

          I only started watching the show a few years ago, maybe around Season 4 or 5, not sure, but I had bought the early seasons on DVD so I was caught up.

          Anyway, I remember when the whole Barney/Robin thing started and how angry Ted was, blah blah. So I agree you can’t really stay friends in a situation like that.

          I was pretty disappointed with the finale. I understand they filmed the kids scenes years ago, but I’m sure there had to be extra footage around that they could have worked themselves out of the corner. It just felt really unrealistic. Like “it’s totally fine if you love someone and they don’t want marriage or kids or anything that you want. Move on, marry someone else and then maybe they’ll die. Now that that kid problem is out of the way, go back to your original choice.” AAAH.

          It just feels like all the characters regressed, Barney went back to his old ways. Ted, despite all his claims never got over Robin.

          They made such a big deal about The Mother getting Ted, his little quirks, the stupid jokes, etc. To undue all that, to go back to the start just makes it seem pointless.

    7. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      I liked the ending in retrospect.

      ************ SPOILERS *******************

      I’ve been a Barney/Robin shipper for years so was gutted by the divorce and thereby distracted. I expected the mother to die, wasn’t phased by that and still distracted by ZOMG THEY BROKE UP BARNEY AND ROBIN.

      Ending, I wanted Ted to keep his stupid blue horn and where is Barney outside Robin’s window.

      In retrospect, though, I think as a series finale it took a lot of risk in being truer to the vagaries of life than the neat wrap up that would have been a guaranteed fan pleaser.

      My only bitterness is that, knowing all along the ending, could the writers have please not gotten me so attached to Barney and Robin together. I don’t like how Barney’s story turned out. If they had kept him shallow all along, it wouldn’t have made for a legendary sad at his end.

      * I can never say “SPOILERS” again without hearing it in River Song’s voice in my head

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        See, I did not like Barney and Robin at all. Robin became such a shrieking harpy that I could not understand why Barney and Ted thought she was such a prize. Plus I thought it completely derailed the show and stopped being about Ted looking for the love of his life, and just became a will-they-or-won’t-they exercise for Barney and Robin.

        It irritated me too that they spent the WHOLE FREAKING SEASON on the wedding weekend — only to split them up 3 years later.

    8. The IT Manager*

      I’m torn because I still didn’t hate Ted and Robin as a couple(I’m looking at you Friends with Ross and Rachael). But the last season did a good job convincing me that the mother was perfect for Ted – she’s just as weirdly quirky as Ted and appreciates that side of him while the rest of the gang makes fun of him for those quirks. How ever much I liked Barney/Robin together I wasn’t convinced that they could last for long.

      It is very circular that the story of how the mother met the rest of the gang began with the loss of the love of her life on her 21st birthday. She eventually found Ted only to die on him.

      I have no doubt that Ted did lose all interest in Robin while with Tracy, but Tracey did get short shrift in the story and I would have enjoyed seeing more of that happily ever until death do us part, but then I would have been more invested in her character and angrier at her death.

      So I am ambivalent about it. I do thinks its super cool that the end was planned out so far in advance and they stuck with it (unlike BSG), but maybe a few less seasons with a few less breakups between Ted and Robin might have helped people be more accepting of the conclusion and revelation.

    9. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      Ugh, it made me angry.

      I expected the mother to die, and I understand that their hands were tied by having the final scenes with the kids filmed back in season 2. And I feel like this would have been a great ending if Stella had been the mother — back in season 4, Barney was still a giant womaniser, Robin still valued her career over anything, and Ted was still holding a candle. By season 9, they had to undo a LOT of character development to get the characters to where they needed to be for the 2030 scenes to actually work.

      I was really mad how they skimmed over the mother’s illness and death. It was basically “then she got sick, then she died, now six years have passed, can I bang Robin now”? I know the characters had six years, but we got about six seconds, and it was jarring.

      The season probably would have worked much better if the first 12 or so episodes where the wedding weekend, and the back 12 were dedicated to 2013-2030. They were too invested in having Ted not meet the mother until the very last episode, and the story suffered for it.

      I did LOVE that the mother’s name was Tracey — awesome callback to season 1 (I think – definitely 1 or 2) where Ted met a stripper called Tracey and joked “that’s how I met your mother”.

      I’m sad that we didn’t get Bob Saget as old!Ted.

      And goddammit, where did the pineapple come from? AND WHY WAS ROBIN A BULLFIGHTER??

  41. JM*

    Do I have to fill out a waiver saying I refuse health benefits and why? I’ve never done it before and I wasn’t sure if this was because of the Affordable Care Act.

    1. Laufey*

      Those waiving benefits at my company also had to sign a waiver, and they put it off on the ACA. But I have not actually read the ACA, so I don’t know if this is required or just becoming a standard CYA, like only confirming employment for references.

      1. JM*

        I don’t actually mind signing the waiver, but they want me to fill out all the info for my actual health insurance. I just feel like that’s none o f their business.

    2. Elizabeth*

      We’ve had to do it for years if we decline our employer’s health plan (I used to be on my husband’s plan, then my employer got a decent one so I switched). It isn’t an ACA thing, but it is related to another piece of federal law. Which one is escaping me at the moment, though.

  42. KCS*

    Where do you job hunt?

    -industry-specific job boards

    Any other good job websites? I tried monster but did not find it produced search relevant results.

    1. Rindle*

      I’ve bookmarked all my target organizations and cycle through their job boards every few days. Also, don’t underestimate the value of directly emailing people. Even second and third degree connections are often helpful about telling you when a position will be coming available. I’ve gotten some interviews for jobs that were never even posted this way.

      1. KCS*

        How do you approach your second or third degree connections if you don’t know them? “Hi, I see you work at __ and was wondering if you could tell me about upcoming opportunities in the __ department?”

        1. Rindle*

          I try to get an email intro from our shared contact first. But I have cold emailed people before. I just try to use any kind of connection I can – we went to the same school, we have the same degree, they spoke at an event I attended – any quick intro that makes it less impersonal. I always attach my resume so they don’t have to ask – and in case they don’t think to ask.

          I think most people want to help, many people are flattered when you ask, and lots of people will do whatever they can – including introduce you to other people, which is a key ask you should make.

          So an email might say something like, “KCS, good morning! My name is Rindle, and I am interested in learning more about opportunities at KCS Limited. I saw on LinkedIn that we both worked at Other Place in a past life [or attended Teapot University, or parlayed MBAs into nonprofit management roles, or whatever.]

          I’m reaching out out to see if you would be willing to share your insight into KCS Limited. I’d particularly appreciate any insight you can give me on X. I’d be happy to talk by phone or meet for coffee if that is easier for you. My resume is attached to give you a better idea of my experience.”

    2. Jubilance*

      I stick to Indeed and LinkedIn mostly, generally they do a good job of pulling jobs I’m interested in. What I focus on is changing my search terms – I don’t search by title, I search by keyword/discipline/theme/etc. For example, here are some of my terms: Black Belt, Six Sigma, DMAIC, Lean, PMP, Project management.

    3. Stephanie*

      Eh, I’ve found Monster to be pretty useless.

      If you’re looking for higher-ed jobs, Idealist is good for nonprofit jobs. USAJOBS (the worst) for federal government jobs.

      1. Sunflower*

        i use higheredjobs . com and have a jobagent for that site that sends emails tht match

      2. Nina*

        Yeah, Monster and Career Builder have really gone down in quality. Mostly stuff from staffing agencies, trucking positions and the like.

        I stick to Indeed and college websites. Unfortunately, most college jobs are for either faculty positions, or students only (eg. you have to be enrolled in at least 2-3 courses.)

        1. Stephanie*

          HERC lists staff jobs! I’ve interviewed for multiple university staff jobs that don’t require PhDs.

    4. Sunflower*

      Indeed and LinkedIn are my favorites. Indeed is like google for jobs so I love it. I also like to see what companies are posting on LinkedIn and then go directly to their site to see what else they have.

      I also look at universities sites in my area. I find that university postings don’t pop up on Indeed as much so I always check their websites too

    5. littlemoose*

      When I was job-searching, I regularly checked a few industry-specific job boards (eg, my state bar association). Have you tried checking to see if your college has a job board? I actually got my current job from a posting on my law school’s job board.
      Also, I used to see a ton of jobs posted in the jobs section of my city’s business journal that I never saw elsewhere. If your city has a business journal, try checking its website.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I used all of those except LinkedIn, and my state Career Center job board. And job boards at local colleges and universities. I even tried Craigslist, though it mostly had scammy crap.

    7. O*

      Library/archives/museums association job listings, indeed, usajobs, and also a few of the library master programs have their own job listings they get notified about.

    8. Laura*

      Industry specific (and Canada specific) job boards mostly., and for anyone who’s interested. I’ve had some luck with LinkedIn.

      Monster didn’t produce relevant or good results for me either

  43. Rayner*

    I AM SO HAPPY! I just got confirmation that my latest work I submitted for publishing is going to go through! It’ll drop in the summer!


    Also, I followed people’s advice from a few open threads back about applying for a job back with my old retail manager and got some great news there, too. I went in on Sunday while I was temporialy back in the UK, and just decided to ask since I was there with them. She said check back in May once all the budgets are done, and she’ll definitely see if she has anything to spare!

    I am so happy!

  44. Stephanie*

    Has anyone worked in a manufacturing environment before? I see postings that could fit my background and I’m curious as to who would thrive in one versus who wouldn’t?

    I can guess some of the big things (being able to deal with noise, limited HVAC, shift work, and so on, but what are some of the intangibles, like personality type, work habits, etc?

    1. Jubilance*

      What type of work would you be doing? Working on the line, doing the same repetitive task over and over? Or something with more variability? If it’s the former, think about if you’d really be ok standing/sitting in the same spot for hours screwing in a widget – most people would go stir crazy, I know I would. Could you handle the regimented structure – you have to be clocked in & on the line at a certain time, breaks/lunch are always at the same time/etc. Could you deal with the PPE (personal protective equipment)- depending on the work you may need safety shoes/glasses, gloves, ear protection, etc. You may also be exposed to ergonomic issues if you’re doing the same thing over and over.

      I’ve found that I don’t do well in that type of environment because I don’t like doing the same thing over and over. I thrive off having new challenges and variety. But some people crave repetition and order, if you do it may be a good spot for you.

      1. Stephanie*

        Thanks, this is helpful!

        I should have clarified–these are like rotating equipment engineer roles. The ones I’ve interviewed for, I think there was some variability, but I definitely did pick on the regimented structure.

        1. Christine*

          Process improvement is a big deal – they are always looking at ways to do things better, faster, cheaper. You have to be comfortable with initiating change and being affected by changes initiated by others. The ability to receive, process, and react to new information quickly is an asset, too.

          (I’ve been in manufacturing for 10 years, never in an equipment related role though, all supply chain. )

        2. Tinker*

          I worked for a place that had a relatively small custom manufacturing operation for products that were then installed in the field, so it might be a bit different from a really large plant or something. Also worked in a fairly industrial-ish research facility.

          One thing I saw with both of these was that for a new engineer, and particularly for one who might be seen as more cerebral or less physical, it helps one’s credibility — sometimes a lot — to be willing, reasonably able, and confident in doing miscellaneous mechanical tasks — unbolting the thing from the other thing, picking up the thing and putting it in the truck, driving the truck to the machine shop, etc.

          Things I’ve found or seen to be useful (not all of which I can do) include:
          — Driving a large vehicle, e.g. on the order of a full-size pickup truck with those custom box things.
          — Driving a vehicle with a manual transmission.
          — Changing tires and using jumper cables.
          — Operating small bits of equipment like bobcats, forklifts, etc. (this one usually requires certification from the employer in question)
          — Lifting, rolling, pushing, dragging, etc, awkwardish objects that are heavy but not unspeakably so.
          — Assembling things – wiring a small prototype or making changes to a larger system, making voltage measurements on such assemblies, putting something together that came “some assembly required”, attaching things to other things in an improvised fashion.
          — Using common hand tools more or less correctly (or the correct sort of incorrectly).
          — Using common power tools safely.
          — Using shop tools, welding, and other more advanced skills.

          Obviously that depends a lot on what in particular you’re involved in, but that kind of gives an idea of where to look.

          Some bits of experience are hard to get without the requisite equipment, so you might have to lean on the “confidence” aspect a lot at first. A secret: Although it might feel as if an angel has come down from heaven and sprinkled your more experienced coworkers with “able to do stuff” dust, they all started out where you are at some point and still are not all that profoundly different. Also, in some places — my second employer, the manufacturer, was particularly bad about this — depending on how you are pigeonholed you may not get the opportunity to do the thing (learn how to do it / demonstrate that you can do it) unless you push a bit.

          This is also not to say that you should be doing these things a lot, necessarily, and often times there are safety or procedural rules that restrict what you can do. It’s very important to follow these — in fact, it’s another credibility point in itself to be aware of the concept of “safety” and how it tends to be applied. But I have really seen a person’s face change when they see that a hole needs to be dug and I go for the shovel.

    2. HM in Atlanta*

      I worked in manufacturing for 8 months and hated it (in the same job I have now). Totally regimented, no room for creativity, all about the numbers out the door.

      Since then, I’ve worked in hospitality, electrical engineering, and IT industries (same job I have now), and loved all of them. They were challenging and no day the same.

      If you were going to be working with different types of manufacturing it might be different (or you were on the R&D side of equipment, that might be different).

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I have worked in several manufacturing places. These places varied wildly. One place the people were so nasty I cried going into work and cried all the way home. Another place the people were so nice it was like having a second family.

      I think the biggest difference in the two places was the way they were run. The nice place paid well, was very safety conscious, the place was kept clean and neat. (None of this was going on at Bad Place.) When an employee spoke management would listen. If I had a problem, coworkers would help. Too bad it was a temporary job.

      Anyway, manufacturing can be mind-numbingly dull. It’s important to have personal goals or career goals that you are committed to following through on.

      And definitely look at what is being manufactured. Is it a product that only does well in a good economy? When was the last time the company had lay-offs? How frequently does that happen?

      Does the product involve toxic chemicals? (Hint: if you get a headache on the interview it is not going to get better once you are working there. A friend started working at one chemical plant and started having night terrors- dreams where he woke up screaming. It was the chemicals. And it took quite a while to figure that out.)

      I would go company by company, carefully considering each one individually. Not all manufacturing jobs are the same.

  45. TaterB*

    Office door open or closed?

    I keep my door open most of the time, but I close it if I am on a call/webinar or working on a project that requires my undivided attention. My boss came by yesterday and said it’s an “unofficial” rule to keep your door open whenever youre in the office. I don’t necessarily agree, but I’ll abide by it. I’m just wondering how other readers feel.

    1. Char*

      I think closing it when you’re in a discussion, on the phone or whatsoever is fine. Keeping it opening means you’re free to talk. I don’t really think you should keep it open all the time. It could be distracting, say if you were in a conference call or needed a quiet space to finish something and would rather not talk to another at that point of time. If your door is closed and there’s something urgent, people probably could knock. If not, it’s probably not so urgent and could wait.

    2. Cat*

      Did your boss mean you should leave it open even when on a call? That seems crazy to me – disruptive both for you and everyone nearby.

      That said, in my office, I think it’s usually better to keep the doors open when you’re not on a call or heavily focused on a task, and I tell new hires that (while also saying it’s my opinion not a policy). We have a culture of senior people dropping by to ask questions and I think keeping your door closed makes that feel more awkward and makes you feel and look a little out of sync with the culture. But I also think that’s office specific.

      1. TaterB*

        Yep, even on calls. Sometimes, it gets really loud around here when two or three people are on the phone.

        To be fair, it really doesn’t surprise me that this is part of the office culture. They are very friendly, and people love to drop by and just talk. Again, not a problem but sometimes, I need to work without being distracted.

        I guess I’ll just invest in noise-canceling headphones!

        1. Cat*

          That would drive me nuts! I have been known to close other people’s door when they’re on loud calls though, so this might just be my pet peeve.

        2. Bryan*

          On calls is weird and flat out bad as whoever you are on the phone might hear background noise (or your roommates doing it).

          I feel bad that I keep mine only cracked but it’s just so loud right outside my office and people think I’m busy or something.

    3. Annie O*

      My company is very open-door. But there are times when I need to shut mine. So I made a pretty “on conference call” sign to hang on my closed door. It’s worked like a charm, and now I see the trend spreading.

    4. Nerdling*

      It seems like your boss’s idea pretty much negates the utility of having an office versus having a cubicle or open setting. I don’t have an office, but the supervisor here uses his office much the way you do.

    5. NOLA*

      Closed when I’m on a conference call or in-person meeting.

      Ajar when I’m working on something important and I need to concentrate. In my office environment, it signals that I’m busy but I can be interrupted if it is important.

      Open when I’m available and it would be ok if someone stopped by just to chat.

      1. Arjay*

        I don’t have a door, but I agree that the “ajar” position is a good compromise if a closed door is frowned upon, but you need some degree of quiet or privacy.

    6. TotesMaGoats*

      That’s just weird. My door is almost always open unless….I’m on a call that needs privacy, a video chat, working on a project where I need to be focused for an extended period of time. I could keep going.

    7. LAI*

      When I’m on a call or don’t want to be disturbed, I close my door most of the way but not all the way. That way, people can’t see me and noise is reduced, but they know I’m still there and that they can interrupt me if it’s an emergency.

    8. Anonylicious*

      Open unless I’m making an especially involved or sensitive phone call, but my office building isn’t super noisy.

  46. Char*

    Hi, I have a friend who has been in an executive position for many years, ever since she entered the company. Do title actually matters? Is there a difference between executive, assistant and coordinator, in your opinion. I checked online and a few sites said that they are interchangable. I know it varies from companies to companies.. But in general sense, do you all feel that someone is in a higher position when s/he mentions that s/he is an executive as compared to coordinator?

    1. Rindle*

      I think this distinction is totally variable. In education, a coordinator is almost always a step up from a program associate, an assistant director is below an associate director, etc. In government, an “executive assistant” is often doing what a chief of staff would do in the private sector.

      Generally, if someone tells me they are an executive, I think they are a high-level leader/manager. If they tell me they are a “coordinator,” I think they are either right out of school or one step up.

      1. Sunflower*

        Yes this. It’s really puzzling though because I’ve seen postings for a coordinator that require 7 years of experience while assistant director jobs can require 2 years of experience

        It all depends on the org and some entry level jobs are execs. That’s why it’s important to list or note on your resume if you were promoted from coordinator to executive so it shows you didn’t come in as exec entry level

  47. Trixie*

    The issue of cost aside, anyone have any luck salvaging a fried Mac hard drive? I’ve been saving mine since it seized up a couple years just in case some of the photos can be retrieved.

    1. Jean*

      Have you searched online for vendors who specialize in this (and then read reviews of said vendors, especially on sites frequented by knowledgable techies), or talked to local Mac users?

    2. Callie30*

      Drivesavers –

      Don’t keep trying to access yourself – you could damage the hard drive even more. Drivesavers is expensive (Up to $800), but they don’t charge you anything unless they are successful. If you don’t mind spending to save the data, then go with them.

      1. Callie30*

        If there is salvageable data to save, they will retrieve it! They have the software, hardware, and staff with the knowledge to do so.

  48. anonanon*

    Has anyone completed an MBA program while they had small children? Can you shed some light on your experience?

    I ask because I can attend for free (huge motivator), but I have a 2 year old. I also have no time limit because I work at the college, I’m pretty young, and am not looking to leave this position any time soon.

    I takes 1 course/semester a waste of time? If I do that, I can take up to 5 courses/year. I haven’t looked into it much other than an overview of programs. About hold long would this take at my rate?

    1. StaminaTea*

      I think that if you’re considering it, you should go for it. I work at a uni too and am taking classes for a masters program (no kids though). I know several people that work here that enrolled in a class, went for a while, and dropped out when they realized it didn’t fit in their lives. So, you could always try it and drop it if it doesn’t work for you.

      Sometimes degree programs have built-in time limits, so keep that in mind when you do the math of how long it will take. I have to finish mine within seven years.

    2. ella*

      I have a friend who did her coursework for her PhD (with a youngish, though school-age, daughter), and then got pregnant, and wrote her dissertation (or whatever this was, it was a long awhile ago) while nursing her infant. It took her 5+ years, but she wanted to get it done, so it got done, with the help of her husband and older daughter and lots of babysitters.

      And yes, she did get a job in her field. For her, it was hectic but it was worth it. But nobody can balance that equation for you except you.

      As for “how long would this take at my rate,” I’d call an advisor at the school or an admissions counselor and ask them what the typical time is, and see if they can give you any perspective on how balanceable the program is with an outside life, including a child, and see if they have a sense of whether that alters the timeline for a student.

    3. Tasha*

      I started my MBA when I lived six blocks from the college, was single, and child-free. I finished six years later after getting married, moving 30 miles away, and having two kids. Let me tell you that I am NOT one of the super-driven people. I took one or two evening classes a semester, and usually one over the summer session. It was very do-able. Oh, and when I started, my employer paid for 80% of it, and by the time I finished I was footing the bill myself. My husband was responsible for the young ones in the evening two nights a week, so it was probably harder for him.

  49. Anon this time*

    I hate my job SO much. I daydream every day, all day, about quitting. I have never had a job make me feel so horrible and depressed. And I have been drinking way more than I should in the evenings to cope. Not a good idea, I know.

    1. Anon for this*

      Find a support group (for accountability) and start networking and otherwise working on finding a new job.

      Also get checked for depression–some talk therapy or medication (short-term or longer-term, you decide w/ your prescriber &/or therapist). I’m not trying to diagnose via cyberspace, just saying that if you are depressed or have some other reason for feeling lousy all the time it’s better to get it under control so it won’t impede whatever else you need or choose to do to find a happier way to earn a living.

      @Rindle: Stress eating, I hear you! Can you at least eat healthier foods? So far I’m managing enough will power to eat yogurt pudding instead of ice cream. Fruit is also helpful. At least the damage accumulates more slowly. But sweets are my go-to…you may prefer salty or something else.

    2. StaminaTea*

      Do you have an Employee Assistance Office? You should go talk to someone. It will help. If you don’t have an EAO, often local unis/colleges have affordable counseling.

    3. Lizzy Mac*

      I have been there and while there are options out there I get how draining an awful job can be. It eats at you until you don’t have the energy or confidence to look for something better. EAPs, therapy, networking were all options for me, but ultimately, I took vacation. I took a week and that was the week where I decompressed and by the end of it I was in a better place. I sat down the Thursday and Friday, redid my resume and applied to new jobs. I don’t know if that option is out there for you, but even a couple of days off can be very refreshing. Mostly though I’m thinking about you.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      It’s a nightmare, it really is. You know, it’s one thing if an employer lets us down. But it’s a whole different thing if we let ourselves down. Make a promise to yourself that you are going to get yourself out of there. Then keep your promise to you.

      A job that kills your mind, soul and heart is not worth it.

      If the only way you can motivate yourself is to write in progress reports on Friday’s open forum then do that. Let us know what is new this week. Plenty of people will cheer you on.

  50. Cat*

    Okay, I have a fun (“fun”?) workplace dilemma for a Friday. Imagine you’re at an employer that has, for the most part, two types of employees – let’s call them Snoods and Twerds. Snoods are senior to Twerds and have larger offices.

    At the present moment, there’s one Snood office open. Would you give it to the most senior Twerd, on the theory that there’s no point in leaving it empty when someone would like it? Or would you leave it open on the theory that (a) you may hire another Snood at which point it would be awkward to ask the Twerd to move; and (b) it may upset the other Twerds? Or are there other compelling rationales for making the decision?

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      I would say leave it open, because it could potentially stir things up among the Twerds. People are so weird and touchy about office space and work areas.

      Any chance you could promote the Twerd to Snood? And then fill the Twerd position?

      1. Cat*

        Unfortunately no, the fact that the Twerd isn’t ready to be a Snood might actually be the source of some of the angst surrounding this.

    2. Annie O*

      Do any Twerds have a legitimate reason to need a bigger office

      Another option is to use the space as a small, cozy conference room.

      1. HM in Atlanta*

        Small conference room is my vote. Then you can convert it back to office as business needs change.

      2. NOLA*

        The small conference room is a great idea! We call them huddle rooms, and they don’t necessarily need to be reserved ahead of time to be used

    3. Ash (the other one!)*

      Leave it open. You will cause massive drama with the Twerds if you give it to one of them.

    4. TotesMaGoats*

      No helpful advice here. Just that I’ll now be mentally referring to my coworkers as Snoods and Twerds.

    5. Sadsack*

      Where I work, only employees of a minimum grade level get offices, and only a specific higher grade level gets offices with windows. That’s the hard and fast rule. We have several empty offices with windows and they will stay empty until people of the right grade level join our group.

      1. Sadsack*

        Where I work, only employees of a certain grade level get offices, and only a specific higher grade level gets offices with windows. That’s the hard and fast rule. We have several empty offices with windows and they will stay empty until people of the right grade level join our group.

        1. Judy*

          I worked at a place once where they put up false walls in places because there were square footage requirements for each level, and oh, no Mr Manager couldn’t have a director size office.

          1. Cat*

            I am surprised to find out how common this is! My instinct has been that there’s no point in leaving the office empty; and that if we’re assigning it by seniority, nobody less senior will have an objection. I’m interested that most other people here feel differently, and this is making me feel better about the possibility of not assigning it.

  51. Diet Coke Addict*

    I’ve been at my job six months now and my (unorganized, frequently jerkish) boss wants to have a meeting with me. Technically this should have been my 3-month review, but still. I’m sure it’s going to be just a discussion of what I’ve done so far and what I hope to do going forward. I feel like I’ve taken on a lot of responsibility in my tiny company, including helping to train someone new and partially covering for my coworker who’s out on mat leave.

    This is my first review. Should I focus on what I feel I’ve accomplished (a little–not much) or on asking what I can do to be better and more productive?

    1. Rindle*

      I’d be ready to talk about both – and realize that you may walk away from the conversation having had the opportunity to discuss neither. I don’t think most bosses know how to do good reviews – and yours doesn’t sound like s/he will be an exception.

    2. CrazyCatLady*

      If it’s your 3 or 6 month review, I’d let him lead it but if he doesn’t bring it up, I’d mention both – what you feel you’ve accomplished, but also where does he see room for you to improve?

  52. Anonymous Analyst*

    How do you keep busy when tech fails (no one can access their computer)? We no longer have paper files, so we can’t go organize file cabinets, not to mention, this sometimes affects the entire company and if we all made a mad dash for the few file cabinets we do have it would probably exceed the size limit of the room.

    1. Rindle*

      I clean my cube. Literally clean it, with the bottle of Lysol cleaner I keep and a handful of paper towels. If it’s longer than 30-45 minutes, I try to circulate and talk to people I don’t know that well to make new connections.

    2. Annie O*

      If the outage is temporary, I’ll clean and organize my office. If it’s more than 2 hours, I’d be allowed to go home. That’s how tech-dependent my job has become.

    3. Nerdling*

      Curse at the machinery/technology, roll my eyes a few times, contemplate chucking the computer out the window, and then start cleaning.

      Not that this has ever happened to me before… ;)

  53. Kate*

    My husband’s supposed to hear back from a manager about a job he wants any minute, and the wait is killing me. Much worse for him, of course, but ugh, waiting is terrible.

    1. Anon for this*

      Ugh, yes, I totally agree! Can you summon enough willpower to make a list of tasks that you would be glad to finish, and then work through even one or two of them? The time will pass no matter what; this way whether or not DH gets the job you’ll have accomplished something else during the wait.

  54. AnonNC*

    While looking at job postings this morning, came across one for a PT job that preferred a Master’s degree. Ouch.

      1. AnonNC*

        Nonprofit program coordinator. On the upside, maybe its the perfect fit for someone who’s been looking for a PT position :)

    1. LPBB*

      I’ve come across a number like that in my field. They want a Master’s and multiple years of experience, but only for part time.

    2. Maddy*

      We have a number of those in my line of work — typically they work well for retired folks or stay-at-home-moms who don’t want to lose touch with the professional world.

  55. Susan*

    I don’t know what is going on this week. Or at least the past couple weeks. I’m coming in to the last 3 months of a year long project with a HARD deadline so I am totally stressed, and suddenly everybody around me is yelling at each other. The manager of the team I PM for has said he wants to quit, and there was some squabbling in irc between a couple of people I work with. The project I am working on ends in June, and I was going to start considering my options then, but now I think I have to start looking immediately and get out (after the project is done). Everyone is just full of tension.

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      What’s probably going on is that everyone is feeling the pressure of the deadline and it’s making everyone jumpy and irritable. I do ERP implementations, and it’s the same on every single project: the closer the launch date gets, the more stressed out everyone gets. Tempers are short and people are on edge and prone to snap at each other and squabble about things.

      Don’t make any decisions about moving on now. Wait until the project gets across the finish line, and everyone can relax a little bit. Plus, you might burn some bridges if you leave at such a critical point in the project, so close to the end.

  56. C*

    I interviewed for a state agency job back in early March. It’s been a month and I’ve heard nothing! Gaaah…I know government is notoriously slow, and they are actually filling 4 positions, but how long is reasonable here?

    1. LCL*

      2 months for my gov’t job to make me the first offer which I declined due to location. 9 months until the 2nd offer, same agency. 6 weeks, including my 2 weeks notice, from immediate acceptance to first day at work. This was normal.

    2. Rindle*

      Ugh. I know it’s frustrating, but you could be a contender and still end up waiting another month or more before you hear anything. And (sorry to say) I’ve worked in government jobs where I was literally prohibited from notifying candidates that they weren’t moving forward. I think with government jobs even more so than private or nonprofit, you just have to force yourself to move on.

    3. Xay*

      Depending on the funding, fiscal year and legislative cycle, you may not hear anything until October.

  57. LK*

    Hi! I open-threaded in mid-March about working with a nonprofit Board that has a tendency to get, well, very involved in the minutiae and to become very offended if not consistently looped-in … yet this only happens sporadically and with particular Board members. In any case, one of said members asked me to meet him for coffee last week. I thought that we’d just be catching up, but he basically gave me an unsolicited performance review. And it was an irrational one, as in harping on strange, tiny details and foregoing most of the big things. My boss was not there and had no idea this was happening. I told her afterwards and she was rather ticked … but I’m not sure that anything will happen. Help? Please? (FWIW: I got a great review from my actual boss at the end of last year.)

    1. ella*

      I feel like this is a conversation for your boss to have with the board member (and possibly with another member of the board who is a) sane and b) outranks the board member that you “had coffee” with) about chain of command and boundaries and how assessing your performance isn’t in his purview. If it comes up, I’d probably try to find some balance between thanking him for his feedback, and letting him know you think his leadership is important, and mentioning that it’d keep everything clearer for you if feedback on your performance came just from your boss and not from him.

      Is he trying to be a mentor? I fel like mentors should help you look ahead, and talk about goals, and keep away from “performance reviews.”

      1. LK*

        Huh. It might well be (misplaced) mentoring. He started the conversation with, “I don’t really have much experience in your field, but …” So he is not actually in a position to mentor, but he might think that he could serve the same function with his outside perspective? This whole situation is just weird.

        1. College Career Counselor*

          This is my biggest pet peeve with some Board Members. They are shining lights in their own field, often very accomplished and well-off (which is a big part of how they get to be on the board in the first place).


          They often have little to no idea how the organization actually runs on the ground level. However, this does not stop them from having an opinion bordering on absolute conviction that we are doing it wrong and they Have. The. Answer.

          Frustrating to say the least, when you spend a good chunk of time preparing for uninformed (if well-meaning) yet authoritative pronouncements. That some of those pronouncements are occasionally, shall we say, unhinged is the cherry on top of the sundae.

          1. LK*

            Oh goodness, I’ve been there. This particular meeting/sundae was particularly frustrating though because it wasn’t just “I have found the answer to all things,” but also “You are doing things wrong according to me.” So it wasn’t just programmatic feedback, but performance feedback … which feels inappropriate? Especially without my boss’ involvement?

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Keep in mind that this board member just walked all over your boss’ toes. It’s hugely offensive.

      Wait for an opening and a calmer day. Go back to your boss and say “I just want to do a good job. Should I be concerned about what the board member said?” And see what she says.

  58. Becca*

    HI everyone!

    I had a fantastic interview yesterday that literally knocked my socks off. The interviewer (my would=be future manager) was so sweet and nice and fantastic. The job duties sound fantastic. Soooooo much different from my toxic work environment I’m suffering through now. She and I just seemed to click.

    Got a call this morning that she was so excited about me, and I am proceeding with drug testing and background check. I know I don’t have a job until I get an offer, but it’s made my work environment today so much more bearable. Got screamed at for answering the phone wrong today and all I did was just smile knowing that there IS hope and my PTSD in the workplace will be over soon!! Thank you AAM and all the commenters that helped me!

  59. J.B.*

    What if you don’t want to manage? This blog is great for its window on management, but I think fundamentally I don’t want to deal with setting goals, dealing with performance etc. But eventually that seems to be the main way to move up.

    What are some examples of high level individual contributor roles from different fields? I am interested in the nexus between engineering and IT (systems integration specifically) but would be interested in hearing general ideas from other fields that might be applicable.

    1. LCL*

      Liason between the theory people and the field crews. Usually goes to an engineer with field experience, or who is willing to work with the crews and learn.
      Different companies call this work by different titles, check the engineer openings. If the company is large, or governement, the job will be one using existing titles but the duties will differ from the other engineer jobs.
      Think utilities.

    2. HM in Atlanta*

      We call that role Strategic _________. It’s super subject matter expert, that can communicate the same information across technical and non-technical groups at all levels (worker bee like me to C-level). No one in this role has direct reports, but does work across multiple teams (leading projects, working with sales on contracts, working with operations on implementation of contracts, consulting with technical staff of customers about needs, etc).

    3. Mimmy*

      I’m interested in this too–No interest in management, but I’m not 100% sure I want to be working directly with clients/the public either. I’m primarily in the nonprofit field but have always wanted to work in a university or a major foundation.

  60. Elkay*

    I want to come here to show off that I did my first ever networking yesterday. I sent an email to someone about a job I thought they might have more info on. Ok, so it took me two weeks to pluck up the courage to do it but got there in the end.

    1. SimpleeInspired*

      Grats on that! It’s been half a year since I started my job search and I still haven’t mustered up the courage to contact my college alumni network, so to me, what you did was really admirable!

  61. Tris Prior*

    Have any of you had to supervise interns who have more experience, knowledge, or talent than you do? I’m having to do this now and am finding it tough. It’s embarrassing when she knows more than I do. As much as I try to appear authoritative, in some cases it’s pretty obvious that she knows more than I. Worse, *she* knows she knows more. If I don’t know an answer I’ll say something like “I’ll check on that and let you know” rather than “duhhhh, I have no idea,” but that doesn’t seem to be helping.

    One solution is to increase my own knowledge, and I’m working on that, but it’d take a long time for me to catch up with her. My managers say I have to learn on my own time, cannot use company time for it. I have no “my own time” – I work 7 days a week at 2 jobs and my managers know and approved this. I’m doing the best I can but it doesn’t seem like enough.

    Short of staying up all night trying to develop my skills so that they match hers – how would you all handle this?

    1. J.B.*

      Can you give some more specifics?

      You don’t need to know everything your people know. In fact, I’ve heard probably from a commenter on this blog that the sign of being a good manager is having smarter people working for you. Look at this as a way to start. You are the one who knows the company procedures and gives some guidance right? If it is a technical area she knows about, lean on her knowledge.

      1. Tris Prior*

        I’m being purposely vague so as not to out myself as it’s a fairly niche company. :)

        I like the idea of leaning on her knowledge – it is a technical skill that is involved. And I do already do that sometimes – “what do you think is the best way to approach this,” etc. It didn’t really bother me until one day when my boss came up to us while I was talking with the intern and asked me to do something I wasn’t sure how to do. Boss left, intern turned to me and said, “you really have no idea how to do what she’s asking for, do you?” So that made me feel like oh sh*t, it is totally obvious to the person I’m supervising that I lack knowledge.

        This is something I’ve struggled with in past jobs, where I was not given any time to sit down with a new project before I was expected to explain it to someone I was supervising. Different field, and in that field I did have the knowledge – but that doesn’t mean that one doesn’t need time to actually digest what is needed before being able to give clear direction!

        1. O*

          Honestly that sounds kinda snotty, I would have politely and quietly asked if you needed any help with that, if I’d realized you didn’t know how.

        2. LBK*

          Wow, that’s totally rude. Not an acceptable way to speak to any coworker, nevermind an intern to their supervisor. Although what did you say to your manager when she asked you the question you didn’t know the answer to?

          1. Tris Prior*

            I’m trying to remember what exactly I said to my boss… I think I thought about what she said for a moment, asked her if she was referring to X, and she said, “no, I meant Y.” And then I probably just said OK or I’ll take care of that, or something like that.

            1. LBK*

              Eh…I can see how the intern found that a very non-committal response that might have indicated you didn’t know what your boss wanted or how to do it.

              I honestly think owning up to not knowing how to do something is better in 99.9% of all situations than pretending you do and figuring it out after. If you stay consistent with that I think the interns will respect you more than if you seem like you’re trying to cover it.

    2. LBK*

      I think politely deferring to her knowledge is definitely the first step, and it sounds like you’re doing that. Nothing is worse than the boss who clearly knows less but is too embarassed to ask someone under them for the answer, so they just make something up or decide on their own right answer.

      I might even directly address it and say that you really appreciate that she has such a broad knowledge and you look forward to picking up any information she can give you along the way, since you’re still learning a lot of the technical aspects of the role. It sounds like this is a role that requires most of the knowledge to come from on-the-job experience, so she’ll probably understand that someone newer to it is going to have a learning curve, even if that person is a manager.

      Reasonable employees understand that managers are hired to manage, not to know every intricate detail of the jobs of their employees. As long as you show that you’re a respectable manager, she should be respectful. Part of that is knowing your weaknesses and being honest to your employees about how you can both work around them. If you don’t act embarrassed to ask for help, she (hopefully) shouldn’t be embarrassed or annoyed to help you.

    3. The IT Manager*

      Had a conversation yesterday with someone in an entirely different organization then me where we both agreed that although we feel bad/guilty that we don’t understand all the technical stuff our people do, we do not have the time to learn it. We are intelligent enough to learn if we had many, many hours to devote to the subject, but we don’t and we were hired to provide the management/oversite/other skills.

      So not uncommn, but I don’t think you are expected to learn it.

    4. Kara Ayako*

      I would address it head on. You know; she knows; it’s out there. As her manager, there are OTHER things you can provide outside of knowledge. Lots of managers can’t do the jobs of their employees.

      You could have a conversation with her and discuss what your job is as her manager. You can help liaise between her team and senior leadership, you can provide her cover, you can provide her assignments that interest her, you can work together on a development plan. None of these require that you be better at her job than she is.

      As an aside, I find it weird that your managers won’t let you use company time in order to do your job better.

      1. Tris Prior*

        eh, we are all stretched thin and OT isn’t allowed, so if I took company time for my own skill development, there’d be something else time-sensitive that wasn’t getting done. Which is a larger issue…. but, it is what it is.

    5. Bryan*

      Good managers don’t need to know more than the people under them. Good managers need to utilize their employees knowledge. At a previous job the person in charge thought they knew the most and would be wrong about things. Instead of deferring to the experts they would lead the company to make poor choices.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        You know the internal workings of the company and your intern doesn’t.
        You also have big picture knowledge that she does not have.
        You have work experience, too.

        If she has more knowledge in certain areas that is not the end of the world. Let her have a moment to shine.

        PS: Depending on her tone of voice when she asked you if you knew what the boss was talking about that may or may not have been rudeness. She may have been looking for a way to help you to “pay you back” for mentoring her. If she kind of whispered off to one side, I would tend to believe this was her intent. Next step in logic- if she is looking to pay you back that means she is finding that you are actually offering her something of value to her.

  62. My Scintillating Pseudonym*

    Does anyone know of a blog/forum similar to AAM for grant writing? I’m not getting more than the bare basics out of books and was hoping for “how it really works” advice–grant reviewers’ pet peeves and how to add a little sparkle to the proposal.

    1. littlemoose*

      It seems that a decent portion of the commentariat here works in the non-profit sector. What if we could set up a discussion through the Linked In group for people to share info about this? I don’t know if you use Linked In, but maybe that’s a way to share some info with knowledgable members of the AAM community.

      1. Trixie*

        Littlemoose, I’m in the LinkedIn AAM group and would love to see something like this and I bet we could ask Jamie to set one up.

    2. Mimmy*

      I’ve been volunteering as a grant reviewer for the local United Way and for my county’s human services department (as part of the advisory council). I love doing it, but could probably write a blog entry on my pet peeves!! lol. I’d be very interested in joining this conversation. I’m still a novice, but I can certainly answer any questions you have.

      1. I can't think of a username under pressure*

        I’m not on LinkedIn and I’d be very sad to miss this since I guess I’m also being thrown into grant writing out of nowehre. Can you name at least a few of the teeth grinders here?? Also, do you need certain qualifications to be a reviewer? Because I like volunteering for good causes and reviewing is probably a great way to find out what sounds good and what doesn’t on an application.

        1. Mimmy*

          Some things that annoy me:

          -When what you write clearly doesn’t answer the question

          -Using older reference materials in justifying the need for the program and the strategies used–I tend to be picky when it comes to the recency of sources of information. I think in some cases, a little extra research could yield newer, more up-to-date information, especially with regard to community needs.

          -Some agencies submit proposals for multiple programs, so to save time, the writer may copy/paste certain sections to be used across applications. Sometimes I can tell that it’s been copy/pasted because the blurb might include something relevant to Program A when in fact the proposal is for Program B.

          -The blasted Logic Model–it seems so simple to fill out, but apparently it’s not (I know not all grant applications require this). For those unfamiliar, it’s a way to lay out your projected outcomes and the resources (staff, supplies, funding, etc), activities and outputs (# of a given thing, such as workshops) that will be used towards those outcomes.

          But I recognize that, given ever-shrinking resources, not all agencies have the time or manpower to put together 100% pristine applications; besides, much of the pet peeves above never really factored into my scoring much. Most agencies do put in a lot of work and effort into their applications, some even actively incorporating panels’ suggestions.

          Even with those little headaches, I love reviewing proposals. I think I’ve learned more about human services and program development this way than I ever did during grad school (MSW). It really does give you a good sense of what constitutes a solid application. In fact, although I’m not sure about actually writing grants yet, I’d at least love to go beyond grants and evaluate full programs.

          As for qualifications to become a reviewer: The entities I volunteer with didn’t really lay out any specific qualifications. I think basic knowledge of human services can be helpful, but not crucial. I don’t know what other groups or agencies use volunteer reviewers, so I can’t speak to their qualifications. Someone more familiar might know.

          1. Mimmy*

            I think basic knowledge of human services can be helpful, but not crucial.

            I should clarify: Human services is my field. There are grants for just about anything you can think of in the field of nonprofits as well as research. So basic knowledge of whatever field you want to volunteer in–be it arts, youth programs or biological research–is what I meant to say.

          2. Clerica D. McClerkykins*

            Using older reference materials in justifying the need for the program and the strategies used

            Why am I picturing that Onion article on going up to employers and asking for a job being quoted for a nonprofit job-seeking resource that needs funds for heavy resume paper and typewriters?

    3. Diane*

      If you can afford training from The Grantsmanship Center, you will learn tons. I found it invaluable in my early grantwriting days.

  63. Heather*

    Here’s my situation – my job is supposed to be about 15% reviewing a specific model of chocolate teacups for problems. I don’t have the authority to approve them – I look for any issues and point them out to someone who gives the approval for all of the chocolate china. This person is in a different group in the same department, but I have no reporting relationship to him. He’s pretty well known for focusing on what he thinks is important and letting other things slide or letting them fall into someone else’s lap. In the past he hasn’t been great about giving me approval in a reasonable timeframe, and sometimes he just relies on what I’ve said without looking at the teacups himself (he’s supposed to look at them). Once he just went home when we had an urgent deadline.

    About a month ago he emailed me with a teapot diagram and asked me to review it. (I don’t review teapots and know very little about them.) I asked the person who used to do his job whether this was something I was supposed to do – we have a great relationship – & she said no. He kept pushing but finally gave up when I pointed out that I didn’t know what to look for in a teapot. The other day, he tried again, but he called me instead of emailing me so I was on the spot. I told him that like we discussed the last time, I didn’t review teapots & that the previous person did them herself. He said he just wanted someone to double check his review. (If this had been someone else, I probably would have said I would do it, but he’s the type where if you give an inch, he takes 5 miles. If I’d said yes I would have ended up looking at all his teapot reviews.)

    I was actually proud when he finally gave up because I’m terrible at saying no…literally. It’s not that I feel obligated to do things, it’s that I have trouble thinking of what to say and I end up doing whatever I was trying to say no to because the other person just out-talks me. Also, my manager is very big on our not giving in to our internal customers’ attempts to get us to do their work for them. So I honestly thought I was doing the kind of boundary-setting she wants me to do.

    I gave her a heads up in case he complained to her. She misunderstood at first & thought I hadn’t already told him no, and said I should do it because we don’t want to get a reputation of being unhelpful. After I explained further, she seemed to get it and said she’d back me up, but I still felt like I messed up.

    For what it’s worth, I help people with things that aren’t my job all the time – once I missed an appointment because I’d promised to help our (awesome) admin with something urgent and I didn’t want to leave without finishing. These were really the only times I’ve said no to someone’s request for help.

    It’s been bugging me because I feel like I don’t know which way I’m supposed to go in situations like this. I plan to ask my manager about how she wants me to handle it in the future, but I want to know whether I was being unreasonable to refuse this guy’s request. What do you guys think?

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      I’m the same way as you. I have trouble saying no (particularly at work) and I feel people take advantage of it. I don’t think you were in the wrong, though – especially if you have no experience in what he was asking for. I think asking your manager how she’d like you to handle this in the future is a good idea though.

    2. LBK*

      If he asks you again, I also wouldn’t even try to answer or give a half-answer. Just straight up say you don’t know enough to review this and you wouldn’t even know where to start. If you’re saying you’re not really sure but you take a look anyway, he may think you’re just trying to downplay your knowledge or that you’re underestimating your ability to review this topic. Make it really, really clear this isn’t something you know how to do and that having you double check it isn’t any better than submitting it without anyone else looking at it, because you aren’t going to be able to catch anything that should be corrected.

  64. hildi*

    Topic: Babies that Don’t Sleep

    Anyone have a little one that is destroying their mind by not sleeping? @Cristina in England and I started talking about this a few days ago and I wanted to see if anyone else could commiserate with us.

    I have a 9.5 month old that wakes up every few hours. Sometimes the little monster {said lovingly, of course} wakes up every 30-60 minutes for the first several hours I put her bed (around 6:30-7:00pm). Her older sister, who is now 4, did the same thing to me. The kid didn’t sleep reliably until she was about 3 years old. So I’m not expecting it to really get better until the youngest is older. But still. It’s killing me. I have tried cry it out–don’t have the stamina for it. I have lately been trying not to pick her up each time I go in. The trouble is that our house is small and it’s literally like 10 steps for me to get to her bedroom so I do it all in my sleep. I hear her cry; stumble in there without thinking, pick her up, plop in the chair and nurse her. So I’ve created some bad habits.

    Anyway, I’m not particularly looking for advice. I tried everything with my firstborn and nothing really worked except for time and maturity on her part. But I just wanted to see if anyone else is struggling at night to know I’m not alone :)

    1. SimpleeInspired*

      I had to deal with crying babies at midnight during my last year of high school when my little brother was born. I was a light sleeper and my mom was a heavy sleeper, so oftentimes I had to go wake her up to nurse my brother. It’s safe to say, no matter how much I love my baby brother, I was ridiculously happy when I had to move into my college dorm.

      1. hildi*

        I find that fascinating that your mom was still able to sleep soundly with a young baby! I have always been a really good sleeper, which is why this is extra hard for me. But even so, my sleep has been radically altered – the slightest noise wakes me now. Though I don’t think that’s too surprising.

        I’d be curious to know if/when you have kids yourself, if you will find it easier to adjust to the sleep bomb these babies drop because you had experience with it with your brother. I never was around kids growing up and children and babies were foreign to me. As it happens, I’m incredibly maternal but it was quite the adjustment realizing how scrambled up they make life. I have always wondered if people that were older when they got siblings made any difference.

        1. SimpleeInspired*

          Haha, that might be a long wait. I’m currently only 21 and have decided with my boyfriend that we won’t think about marriage till we’re 25. Kids…haven’t even showed up in my future plans yet! But I think being an engineering major in college is a definite plus in adjusting to the sleep bomb. You learn to operate on 5 hours to no sleep.

          1. hildi*